With Mazda Motor Corp.'s strategy of reducing incentives and on turning its attention on retail sales instead of the fleet business, it posted a 6% gain in March sales that falls below the industry's 24% year-to-year gain. Its main competitors did better, with Toyota Motor Corp. getting a 41% gain and Nissan Motor Co. with a 43% increase.
At the New York Auto Show, Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi told Bloomberg that fleet sales were "dramatically reduced" and while overall growth doesn't look that strong, its retail sales increased "substantially."
He also said that for Mazda America, the activity in the emerging markets is "still extremely important." In the first quarter of the year, Mazda sales were up 4% while the industry gained 15%. Last month, Mazda had a 4% gain compared with a 13% increase for the auto industry. For January, Mazda's gain was 2% while the industry got a 6% boost.
To raise demand, Mazda said that it will start selling the subcompact Mazda2 hatchback in July -- months earlier than had been planned. Mazda North American CEO Jim O'Sullivan said that according to Autodata Corp., Toyota and Honda increased their incentives in March while Mazda's US incentive spending fell about 30% from a year earlier.
Bob Carter, group vice president of Toyota's US sales operations, said that Toyota intends to extend no-interest loan and discount lease offers for at least one more month and it may even include maintenance in the sales price for all US buyers.