Mazda will achieve all-time high fleet sales this year and volumes are predicted to accelerate even higher in 2007 as the company's 'Zoom-Zoom' brand experience gets the green light from fleet decision-makers.
Around 300 fleet operators, key staff at contract hire and leasing companies, residual value experts and customers of Mazda's 10 fleet specialist dealers got to know Mazda better when they took part in the first 'Mazda Fleet Zoom-Zoom Challenge' held over four days at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire earlier this month.
Last year Mazda sold 16,118 vehicles to fleets out of total sales of 46,801 and this year fleet volumes are forecast to be more than 18,000 units out of total registrations of a record 50,000 vehicles. Fleet volumes are expected to grow further in 2007, although they will remain at around 35 per cent of Mazda UK's total business, which is estimated to see registrations of about 53,000 vehicles.
Mazda national corporate sales manager Terry Swanton said: "To achieve our fleet volume aspirations we need to deliver the Mazda brand experience to more fleet decision-makers and company car influencers and that is what the 'Zoom-Zoom Challenge' was all about."
On each of the four 'Zoom-Zoom days' around 60 people tested the handling characteristics of the Mazda MX-5 soft top and recently launched MX-5 Roadster Coupe, Mazda6 MPS and RX-8 PZ, around a high-speed bowl and on Millbrook's well-known alpine circuit. A driving dynamics course and a short, timed race circuit combined with taking to the sky in a helicopter completed the 'Zoom-Zoom' experience.
Mr Swanton added: "Mazda has been particularly successful in growing fleet sales through an affordable motoring philosophy, which sees sporty and hi-spec models proving attractive to company car drivers and user-choosers alike, while class-leading wholelife costs and residual values coupled with excellent vehicle reliability appeals to fleet operators.
"While some of those attending were existing customers, the majority of people experienced the Mazda brand and product range for the first time. The initial feedback has been excellent and we hope their introduction to the Mazda brand will lead to long-term business partnerships."
Agricultural and building equipment suppliers McArthur Group already has 12 Mazda6s on its 112-strong outright purchase company car fleet. Fleet manager David Cashmore said: "Wholelife costs are crucial and the Mazda6 ticks all the right boxes. Equally important is vehicle reliability and again our Mazdas perform very well.
"We have only had the Mazda6s on the fleet for seven months, but driver feedback has been very good, particularly in respect of specification levels. I would expect to increase the number of Mazdas on our fleet."
Gary Black, in charge of 1,500 vehicles at Burton-on-Trent-based Leisure Link, the largest supplier of gaming machines in Europe added: "While I didn't know anything about Mazda before the event it has been a real eye-opener. Wholelife costs are as important as the driving experience, and initial impressions are of a quality brand with cars that would be appreciated at management level."
Weighing and labelling equipment supplier Bizerba (UK), of Hemel Hempstead, added the Mazda6 Estate to its fleet three years ago. Finance director Mark Glenister said: "All our company car drivers have been delighted. A large load space is essential as our employees have a lot of equipment and the Mazda6 has lived up to expectations. From an operating perspective they have been very reliable which is vital."
Mark Cameron, in charge of 370 vehicles at London-based estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Haywood, said after driving both the RX-8 and Mazda6: "I have seen Mazda's advertising but otherwise knew little about the company. As fleet operators it is vital not to stagnate and to keep up-to-date with new vehicles and developing brands.
"There is always an opportunity for change and this event has given me a real eye-opener on the brand and to get a feel for their vehicles."
Mazda plans to make the 'Zoom Zoom Fleet Challenge' an annual fleet event.
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