Mazda boss wants to push company upmarket

Mazda’s vice chairman has said that he wants to take the company upmarket, offering premium cars complete with premium prices.

Speaking to media at the company’s headquarters in Hiroshima, vice chairman Seita Kanai revealed his desire to push the brand into more prestigious and expensive territory when he takes over the chairman position in late June.

He said: “A direction we’re taking is to offer a premium sort of product and charge a premium sort of price. That is something we’d like to do sometime in the future.”

However, instead of launching a separate premium brand like Lexus for Toyota or Infiniti for Nissan, Kanai is aiming to improve existing Mazda-badged models until they can compete against established premium brands.

Do you remember the Eunos?

Mazda previously attempted to launch a higher-priced brand in the 1980s, the short-lived Eunos, which collapsed in the mid-90s. “To be honest we had that already and we kind of failed to create that Eunos brand along with the Mazda brand,” he said. “One of the reasons we failed back then was our technology was poor, to be honest. Another reason we failed was we didn’t have enough resources back then. We didn’t have enough experienced people and enough money back then.”

Kenai is also aware of a potential backlash from customers and said that the final decision on whether or not to branch out into pricier territory would be down to the buyers, saying: “That’s something that our customers will decide.”

However, the Japanese carmaker is now more profitable than ever, and has increasingly focused on investing back into itself as well as progressively introducing more and more technology into its cars, including the award-winning range of eco-friendly SKYACTIV tech.

30% increase for year-on-year sales

The company also reported a brisk pace of growth in car sales last month, with 13,201 cars sold in Europe in April alone, a near 30 per cent increase over their sales in April of last year.

As well as that, the year-on-year growth figure for the first four months of 2014 for the company is 27.6 per cent, making Mazda the fastest-growing carmaker in Europe this year so far.

Sales were boosted by the introduction of the all-new Mazda3 as well as the continuing popularity of the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda 6, both of which took home prizes at last year’s Fleet World Awards.

Mazda Europe’s Chief Operating Officer Philip Waring said: “With growing production capacity around the world, we’re in a position to contend with such ever-increasing demand. This momentum is sustainable because it is built on excellent products, and I can tell you that we have a lot more of those on the way in the next couple of years.”