Mazda expects Honda rivalry

Diesel SUVs to face off in the Thai market

Mazda's CX-5 and CX-3 sales may be dented by the introduction of Honda's diesel-powered SUVs.

Mazda Sales Thailand, the local unit of the Japanese carmaker, expects sales of its diesel sport utility vehicle (SUV) to be affected by the arrival of rival Honda's new diesel CR-V next week.

President Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk said Mazda has been a pioneer in diesel-engine SUVs in the Thai market, competing with other SUVs running on petrol, the core engine in the segment excluding passenger pickup vehicles (PPVs).

"Mazda has been dominant in the diesel SUV segment in the Thai market for the past four years, with few rivals. I think the arrival of the diesel-powered Honda CR-V will affect market competition," he said.

Mazda launched the Malaysian-made CX-5 in October 2013, followed by the CX-3, made in Thailand, in November 2015. Both car models are available on diesel and petrol engines.

Apart from Mazda, General Motors also has its diesel SUV, Captiva, available in the local market.

It is reported that Honda will hold a press conference on Mar 24 to introduce the all-new CR-V diesel for the first time in Thailand. The 1.6-litre CR-V is made at the Honda plant in Thailand.

Mazda offers a 2.2 litre engine and the carmaker believes the engine is an appropriate size to support large SUVs with diesel platforms.

Mr Chanchai added it will depend on Thai motorists' trust and brand awareness to make a decision regarding which diesel SUV to purchase.

Since their launch at the end of last year, the Mazda CX-5 and CX-3 models have sold 14,090 units and 6,108 units, respectively.

Mr Chanchai said Mazda will not revise its sales projections this year of 4,500 units for CX-5 and 6,000 units for CX-3. Its 2017 car sales target has been set at 50,000 units, a 18% rise from last year.

Mazda plans to launch two refreshed models, the sporty MX-5 RF and CX-3, at the Bangkok International Motor Show held on March 29-April 9.

Mr Chanchai also announced plans to increase Mazda's outlets and service centres by another 20 from 147 nationwide.

He plans to renovate all existing 147 outlets and service centres during 2017-19 to support Mazda's customers in a long run.

"We expects a market share of 8% in Thailand by 2020," said Mr Chanchai.

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