Mazda Strikes Upbeat Note On SUV Sales

Mr Thee (left) and Mr Chanchai at yesterday's official launch of the Mazda CX-5.

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Mazda Sales Thailand, the local distribution arm of the Japanese carmaker, is bullish on sport utility vehicles (SUVs) even as the segment remains flat this year.

Yesterday Mazda introduced the Malaysian-made CX-5, a refreshed model, to the Thai market. The CX-5 debuted in Penang in September.

Mazda sells two SUVs in Thailand: the CX-5 and the locally made CX-3 crossover.

The company is confident the CX-5 can compete well with other SUV brands in the market because large SUVs are popular among Thais, said Thee Permpongpanth, senior marketing director.

"The large SUV market remains stable this year, while small and mid-size cars are quite bearish," he said. "Passenger pickup vehicles (PPVs) are included as large SUVs, so competition will become more aggressive because plenty of models are overlapping."

The overall SUV segment, including PPVs, saw sales of 87,736 units during January to October, a slight drop of 2.4% on year. Mazda forecasts about 110,000 cars sold throughout 2017.

Sales of PPVs alone also declined by 6.3% to 46,261 units, but SUV passenger cars showed a slight increase of 2.3% to 41,475 units sold over the first 10 months this year.

This SUV segment was dominated by Honda at 29.9% with the CR-V, HR-V and BR-V, while the Toyota Fortuner followed with a segment share of 19.9%.

Mazda ranked sixth in this segment with sales of 6,435 SUVs, up 17.6%.

Mr Thee said sales of the CX-5 grew by 27.2% with 3,277 units sold from January to October. Mazda expects sales to surge to 7,200 units by the end of 2017.

"Mazda is confident that the new CX-5 can boost sales significantly during the remaining two months," Mr Thee said.

Mazda entered the SUV segment in late 2013 with the CX-5 under the SkyActiv platform, its vaunted fuel-efficient technology. In late 2015, the CX-3 debuted locally.

At present, 18,000 CX-5s have been sold in Thailand.

President Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk said Thailand's car market performed well over the first 10 months because of many positive factors: better farm product prices, a thriving tourism industry, a pickup in the export sector and the government's stimulus measures.

He said car sales from January to October rose by 10% to 690,120 units.

"We are expecting sales of about 840,000 vehicles in 2017, the first growth after a four-straight-year contraction," Mr Chanchai said.

Mazda expects sales of 51,000 units this year, up 20%.

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