MAZDA hasn’t launched the brand-new next-generation Mazda 3 locally yet, but already expects its sales will weaken in 2019.
Speaking to media at the small hatchback’s local reveal, Vinesh Bhindi, Mazda Australia’s Managing Director, confirmed it’s likely the CX-5 mid-size SUV will become the brand’s most popular model within 12-24 months.
Bhindi explained that while fewer customers are predicted to buy the Mazda 3, he expects they will stay within the Mazda family.
Above: Mazda CX-5
“The volume will redistribute,” he said. “In a full calendar year with the new Mazda 3, our conservative estimate is around 20,000 [units].”
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That’s a significant decrease, with over 30,000 examples of the Mazda 3 being registered consistently for several years, with its worst result coming in 2018 with 31,065 annual sales.
“Some of those customers we think will be looking at other options within our portfolio, but naturally a migration towards SUVs will happen,” he added.
When discussing a timeline for the CX-5 becoming Mazda’s most popular model, Bhindi reiterated “things will change”.
The two cars have been en route to intersecting on the sales chart for some time, with Mazda 3 sales gradually shrinking, while CX-5 registrations continue to climb.
Above: Mazda 3
Between 2018 and 2017, the Mazda 3’s sales fell 5 percent, while the CX-5 grew by 1.3 percent, with 26,173 examples registered in the 12 months of 2018.
The first full month of sales for 2019 reinforces this trend, with 2831 Mazda 3s being registered (down 11.6 percent compared to January 2018), while the CX-5 shifted 2347 units (up 9.1 percent on the same time last year).
It should be noted the Mazda 3 figures will be affected by the run-out of the current generation, ahead of the new model arriving in Q2.
Mazda Australia Marketing Director Alastair Doak told Wheels the company was comfortable with the Mazda 3 no longer being its most popular model.
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“If one of our customers wants to go and buy an SUV instead, that’s okay,” he explained. “We are not precious about having to protect the Mazda 3.
“Look at the history of car brands that have tried to protect a particular model. It doesn’t work very well in the long term.”
Doak was nonplussed about the changing trends within the market, stating Mazda Australia was confident in its current portfolio – which includes four SUVs and a dual-cab, with a fifth SUV expected to be revealed in Geneva this year.
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He explained that the natural progression of life for buyers means they will transition away from a hatchback, but potentially return in later years.
“A customer’s life circumstances change,” he said. “Someone who was single might buy a 3, and then want to start a family and step into a CX-5. Add a kid and a dog and then maybe they think a CX-8 or CX-9 would be better. Then as the kid moves out they downsize to something else.
“A few years ago the biggest inflow of customers to Mazda 3 was from the Holden Commodore. You wouldn’t think that is a natural transition, but it is what it was. That’s the lifecycle of things.”