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Business

Mazda aims upmarket with Thai dealership revamp

Japanese automaker looks to boost Southeast Asian sales

The Mazda CX-5 sells in Southeast Asia, where SUVs are gaining in popularity.

TOKYO -- Mazda Motor will spruce up all of its dealerships in Thailand, as part of its plan to sell more cars in the Southeast Asian market.

The Japanese automaker aims to increase sales in the ASEAN region to 150,000 units by the year ending March 2019, focusing on countries that host its production bases -- Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Mazda sold 1.55 million cars worldwide in the year ended March, but sales in Association of Southeast Asian Nations markets accounted for just about 7% at around 100,000 vehicles.

Mazda aims to attract Thailand's young affluent shoppers by upgrading its brand image. All 140 of its dealerships there will be remodeled to sport black and woodgrain features by March 2019 for a more elegant look. The company also is considering launching several dealerships in new areas, but will focus on revamping its existing locations for now.

Dealers will cover renovation costs, but Mazda will offer a broader rewards program to support remodeling. On top of fixed compensation for car sales, the automaker will introduce variable rewards that pay dealers for contributing to the Mazda brand through such means as renovations and employee training.

In Malaysia, Mazda will double its output to about 35,000 units per year by adding a second work shift at a vehicle assembly plant this fiscal year. The automaker will also spend about 2 billion yen ($17.9 million) on additional paint shops to increase the quality of its locally made cars. It has announced plans to expand an engine plant in Thailand as well.

This fiscal year, Mazda will roll out its CX-9 three-row sport utility vehicle, which is sold in the U.S., in the entire ASEAN region alongside its mainstay CX-5 SUV. SUVs are gaining popularity in Thailand and Malaysia.

(Nikkei)

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