Mazda is not doing too badly

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

With a severe downturn in economic conditions, one of the hardest-hit industries appears to be the motor trade.

Soaring interest rates - with further increases of 150 basis points predicted for the end of October - coupled with increasing inflation have resulted in more than 4000 vehicles a month being repossessed and auctioned throughout the country.

For Mazda general manager Brendan Lyne, who has only been in his position since February, it is a particularly challenging time.

"A few of our dealers are battling, but those with strong structures in place are doing alright.

"The rand has also performed below par, which doesn't help us at all in a competitive trading market," says Lyne.

In Mazda's favour though is the recent naming of the Mazda2 as Car of the Year in South Africa. It has scooped this award in 17 countries.

Lyne says: "A positive spin-off of winning the award is that it has brought more people into our showrooms. Often a parent may be dragged in by a daughter who fancies the Mazda2, but it ends that the parent buys another vehicle from the Mazda range," explains Lyne.

A criticism by a number of Mazda dealers and consumers is the low number of the Mazda2s available for purchase. Again, it comes down to rands and cents.

"We are selling on average 600 to 700 units of the Mazda2 a month when we could easily be selling over 1000, but unfortunately we can't get any more out of our plant headquarters in Hiroshima in Japan.

"We would like to exploit the success of the Mazda2 with a beefed-up advertising campaign, but to then turn around and tell a customer to wait six months for their car doesn't make sense," concludes Lyne.