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No Thai take-away for Aussie Mazda3

Still Japan: Mazda Australia will not be sourcing the top-selling 3 from Thailand, despite the free-trade agreement in place.

Mazda3 production begins in Thailand and Malaysia, but not for Australia

3 Mar 2011

MAZDA says Australia’s most popular privately purchased small car, the Mazda3, will continue to be sourced from Japan despite the commencement of production in two closer Asian nations.

The current, second-generation Mazda3 is now being built in both Malaysia and Thailand, which has a free-trade agreement with Australia and supplied Australia’s version of the Mazda2 until January, when production of our version reverted to Hiroshima after just eight months to free up supplies for Asian markets.

Ford Australia, which continues to import its closely related Fiesta from the same Auto Alliance Thailand (AAT) that produces the Mazda2, will eventually import its next-generation from a new Ford plant in Thailand by 2012 – the same year Mitsubishi’s Colt replacement will commence production in Thailand.

The new Australian designed Ranger ute and its mechanical twin, the BT-50, will both come here from Thailand in the third quarter of this year, while Nissan already imports its new Micra from Australia’s northern Asian neighbour, which already supplies almost all Honda models and one-tonne utilities sold Down Under.

22 center imageLeft: Mazda3 update with SkyActiv technology.

Despite the five per cent reduction in import duty for new vehicles shipped from Thailand, however, Mazda Australia spokesman Steve Maciver said Australia’s Mazda3, a facelifted version of which is expected to be the first model to be powered by Mazda’s ground-breaking new SkyActiv engine technology later this year, will continue to be produced in Japan.

“It doesn't mean anything for us,” he said. “Australian-bound Mazda3s will continue to come from Japan.

Last year, the number of Australian-made vehicles sold here was eclipsed for the first time by vehicles from Thailand and South Korea. In 2010, Thailand produced 164,886 vehicles sold here, and could overtake Japan as the number one source for new vehicles in Australia within two years.

While AAT began producing the MkII Mazda3 alongside the Mazda2 for Mazda’s Thai distributor Mazda Sales Thailand on February 28, Mazda’s Malaysian distributor Bermaz Motor contracted Inokom Corporation to begin local assembly of the same model for that market on March 2.

Mazda Motor Corporation’s managing executive officer in charge of overseas sales, Yuji Nakamine, said the production switch was made in response to anticipated sales growth of the Mazda3 in both Thailand and Malaysia, which has imported the Mazda3 from Japan since June 2009.

“Originally launched in 2003, the Mazda3 has become one of our core products,” said Mr Nakamine. “Today, it represents the Mazda brand in over 100 countries and regions, and with annual sales of 440,000 units, it comprises roughly one third of all Mazda vehicle sales.

“Winning over 120 global awards, the Mazda3 has gained worldwide recognition for its stylish design, sporty driving dynamics, and excellent environmental performance. Going forward, we have great expectations that the locally-produced Mazda3 will drive the Mazda brand forward in the rapidly growing Thai and Malaysian markets.”

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