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Mazda promises 'more boots on the ground'

Date: 08 October 2015   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Mazda is planning an expanded fleet market presence next year with a strategy that Mazda Motors UK managing director Jeremy Thomson revealed was likely to involve "more boots on the ground" as it aims to increase the business car sales element from 45% to half registration volumes.

"Next year's fiscal plan will include further fleet volume expansion," Thomson told BusinessCar. "Depending on what scale is involved we would require additional headcount. Our sixth-generation SkyActiv range has made Mazda more attractive as a fleet brand of choice.

"We will be more proactive out in the fleet community. We deserve more and can only blame ourselves if we don't fulfil that aspiration. This year, Mazda has enjoyed a 50% rise in fleet registrations, the majority into user-chooser and contract hire, which together represent 60% of our fleet volume."

Thomson added that in recent years the fleet factor within its sales had grown from 30% to 45%, which he described as a "much more sustainable position". Mazda would like to broaden its current Motability footprint, particularly with the CX-5 crossover, which he maintained had emerged as a close second to the previous Mazda mainstay, the 6, in overall corporate terms.

But the CX-5 needs extra production volume for the UK, while both it and the smaller CX-3 counterpart enjoyed strong retail demand. Thomson explained: "We need to sustain Motability over a period of time. It is about the bottom line, and most or our factories operate at near capacity. So we enjoy far more demand than supply for some models."

Thomson argued that some model lines can be as profitable in fleet as in a retail context, although he commented: "I will not share product-specific information and we need to present our fleet case in a compelling way, standing shoulder to shoulder against the established and emerging opposition. Our quality fleet business remains robust and is strengthening."

Mazda, he reasoned, would never be a fleet-obsessed business in terms of running ahead of the motor industry sector average. While daily rental and Motability represented modest parts of the business car equation, RVs would not be compromised and the brand aspired to a 50:50 fleet-retail balance.

Thomson said that the parent European operation had been presented with options across different channels and the programme also depended on receiving appropriate marketing support for the department, overseen by head of fleet Steve Tomlinson.