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Mazda plans hybrid future

Date: 21 November 2014   |   Author:

Mazda still believes the market in the UK is too small for plug-in hybrids, but is actively developing the technology for the future combine it with the Skyactiv efficiency features on its current models.

Mazda has previously defended its stance on not introducing electric vehicles and hybrids, citing that there is still more work to be done on making standard combustion engines as efficient as possible before adding hybrid technology.

The firm has been developing hybrids since signing an agreement with Toyota in 2010 to use its hybrid technology under licence.

Jeremy Thomson, Mazda UK managing director, said: "There is a place in the market for alternative powertrains, but we are still continuing the quest to improve the internal combustion engine. We still think there's more that can be done with high-compression technology.

"There will come a point where we will launch hybrid models, but the reality is that the market is too small at the moment."

Mazda's Skyactiv tech is an all-encompassing programme focusing on the efficiency of the brand's models engines and chassis.

Thomson said the focus on Skyactiv was helping it win fleet business. Fleet sales were up by 25%, with core fleet registrations up by what the firm calls "more than 50%" in the first half of its financial year - April to September - as the firm reduced its volumes of daily rental, mobility and captive internal cars. Mazda caps its daily rental volumes at 3000 and has only done 1000 in that channel this year.

In that period, the Japanese car maker said its fleet sales totalled 10,924 cars, accounting for 35% of total registrations for the company. Mazda said it is on course for its third successive year of 20% growth in 2014.

Fleet volumes are led by the 6 saloon and 3 hatch, while models such as the CX-5 crossover and a small SUV CX-3 will help it compete with a full range of products that are tempting in the fleet market.

Thomson said: "We've been pleasantly surprised by the increase in residual values on the CX-5 in particular. The RV kept climbing and the value setters see it as a desirable product in the used market.
"We're closing the gap on volume rivals to have comparable RVs now."

"More than 40% of the growth in core fleet sales has come from all-new Mazda 3", added Mazda head of fleet Steve Tomlinson. "The forward fleet order bank is strong and traction continues to increase particularly in respect of the all-new Mazda 3 as it increasingly wins a place on company car polices."

Mazda's next big launch will be the iconic MX-5, and Thomson believes there is a place in fleet for the car, particularly with user choosers. There are currently no plans to add a diesel to the MX-5 line-up but Thompson said a case could be made for it.