After a deep sales plunge of more than 40 per cent during the first four months of this year, the Thai automobile market is showing signs of recovery.
Even though Mazda witnessed markedly lower sales in the first six months of the year, the Japanese automaker is predicting fierce competition.
“After trying to maintain level sales during the first half of the year, Mazda is now even more ready to compete and we will be witnessing stronger market competition during the remaining months of this year,” Mazda Sales Thailand vice president for marketing Sureethip Chomthongdee La-Ongthong said.
Sureethip told reporters that consumers had been holding back purchases and not only watching what direction the junta’s economic stimulus programme would take but also waiting for the launch of new models.
“During the second half of this year Mazda plans to introduce several new models, including special ones such as the BT-50 special edition, which is targeted at customers who want exclusivity,” she revealed.
From January to June this year, Mazda sold 17,144 vehicles, down 43.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, when it sold 30,441 vehicles.
“Actually the Mazda3 has received tremendous market acceptance, with 3,618 being delivered to customers, giving it an 11-per-cent market share in the compact-car segment. We expect Mazda3 sales in July to grow further by several hundred since we have allocated more vehicles and are delivering 3,000 back orders,” Sureethip pointed out.
CX-5 sales during the six-month period reached 2,970, with another 3,000 back orders to be met, while 7,109 BT-50 pickups were sold. With increased sales, Mazda is adjusting its dealership strategy to suit each marker region.
“We want to raise the capability of our dealers as well as their flexibility in the current situation, particularly provincial dealers who need special attention. We are sending experts in management to advise them in terms of sales and marketing, as well as long-term planning to create after-sales profit. This will help strengthen our dealers so that they become profitable and competitive,” she said.
The number of Mazda dealers has grown from 50 in 1998 to 152 and the company plans to have 160 dealers by the end of the year. There are 39 Mazda dealers in Bangkok and 117 upcountry.
“We will have four new dealerships in Bangkok and another eight in the provinces, and all of them will go by the MCI [Mazda Corporate Identity] concept,” Sureethip said.