Mazda's sales in Mexico increased by 53% in the first quarter. What factors have driven this growth?
This first quarter, from January to March, is vital to consider. This year the industry grew 22% during this time, and Mazda rose 53% due to the new products in our portfolio. We divided Mazda 3 into two models. One is a 2-liter engine model, locally produced in Salamanca, and the other is the 2.5-liter engine produced in Hiroshima, Japan. The increase in our sales is representative of the Mazda 3's success and due to our coverage of the market. Today we have 54 dealerships nationwide, up from last year's 45. We have nationwide representation, in all the major cities.
Mazda's plant in Mexico targets manufacturing 230,000 cars by 2016. What steps are being taken to achieve those numbers?
Last year we began production of the Mazda 3 at the Salamanca plant. If the year ends in March, by Japanese fiscal years, we have manufactured our target of 140,000 units in the first year. In the second fiscal year running from April 2015 to March 2016, our goal is to produce our maximum capacity of 230,000 units, consisting of about 200,000 Mazda cars and around 40,000 units for Toyota. To achieve those goals we have started manufacturing the Mazda 2 at the Salamanca facility, changed from 1 shift to 2 shifts at the plant, and increased staff from 4,600 to 5,200 people. Production is increasing, and 90% is export-oriented with 10% reserved for the domestic market.
How important is the Mexican domestic market for Mazda?
The domestic market is incredibly important. We are in the top 10 Mazda markets in the world; last year we were ranked as the 8th market in the global Mazda business. We would like to achieve the number 5 in that ranking. In order to achieve this, we will launch the Mazda 2 in Mexico, which will give us incremental volume. In addition, this summer we plan to launch the MX-5 Miata, which is a niche car that will help us in other segments. Late this calendar year we will launch the Mazda CX3, a small SUV. It will be part of an important segment of the Mexican market. In terms of commercial operations, we are getting more products and increasing our portfolio base. We are renewing cars, which helps us in that regard.
What is the main demand of the Mexican consumer market?
Mexican customers value design, and Mazda fits the Mexican customers' profile, which differs from Europe or the US. Consumers are looking for well-equipped cars with good audio systems, sunroofs, safety features including air bags, and the dynamics of control.
Mazda 3 exports go to the US, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, and the Mazda 2 is exported to Europe, Central and South America.
By 2020 Mexico is expected to manufacture 5 million cars. Where do you expect to see Mazda by that time?
We will have grown by 2020, and we have ample room at the Salamanca facility to expand. We have a 230,000-unit objective. If we observe demand in the global market, there will likely be an expansion of the plant.
What are you expectations for 2015 and 2016?
Based on 2014, the forecast for this year is for a unit sales rise of 6%. Customer satisfaction is always our goal, while growth is also a priority. Last year we sold 41,000 units, and this year we are aiming for 47,000.