Mazda expects the newly introduced CX-3 compact crossover to help it achieve targeted sales of 40,000 units in Thailand this year.
The new model, priced from Bt835,000 to Bt1.155 million, is produced at the AutoAlliance(AAT) plant in Rayong.
From January to October, the Japanese automaker sold 29,641 vehicles in the Thai market, posting modest growth against the market decline of 15 per cent during the period.
Last year, Mazda sold 34,000 vehicles in Thailand, comprising the CX-5, Mazda3, Mazda2, BT-50 and a small number of premium models such as the MX-5 roadster.
Hidesuke Takesue, president of distributor Mazda Sales Thailand Co, says about 1,000 units of the CX-3 will be delivered to customers this year, while annual sales of the new model are expected to reach at least 6,000 units.
Takesue said Mazda expected the Thai auto market to finish the year at 750,000 units, down from the earlier forecast of almost 800,000.
The CX-3 features a sensuous "KODO: Soul of Motion" design as well as SKYACTIV technologies that help lower fuel consumption while maintaining driving performance. It comes with either a 1.5-litre diesel or 2.0-litre petrol engine, delivering average fuel economies of 23.3 kilometres per litre (4.3 litres per 100km) and 16.4km/litre (6.1 litres/100km) respectively.
Takesue says the CX-3 will also be exported from Thailand. "We will start exporting the CX-3 to the same markets as the Mazda2 very soon," he said.
Despite the new excise tax based on carbon-dioxide emissions that will take effect next year, Mazda is trying to maintain the current prices for models facing higher rates. The company will try to adjust production at AAT as well as using other measures to maintain prices.
Marketing director Thee Permpongphanth said: "For example, with the CX-5, that should be 3-5 per cent more expensive. We will be introducing a minor-change model next year and we are discussing how we can minimise the increase in prices."
But some models such as the Mazda2 will become cheaper, with excise tax dropping from 17 per cent to 14 per cent, resulting in a Bt20,000 price reduction.