What's most impressive, though, is where Mazda saw improvement. The notoriously rough European market was rather kind to the Zoom-Zoom brand, where sales increased 25 percent to 163,000 units. That figure was bolstered by a 35-percent sales increase in Great Britain and a 20-percent jump in Germany, Europe's two largest markets. Japanese sales, meanwhile, were up a respectable 13 percent, to 244,000 units. In China, Mazda saw a 12 percent bump.
Notice we aren't talking about North American sales? That's because Mazda only saw a moderate, five-percent gain in the New World, with sales climbing to 391,000 units in the US, Canada and Mexico. This is particularly disappointing considering Mazda has launched three critically acclaimed products (CX-5, Mazda6 and most recently, Mazda3) for the North American market over the past two fiscal years. Still, it isn't a particular reason to be concerned, as IHS industry analyst Stephanie Brinley notes. "Five percent isn't terrible," Brinley told Autoblog, saying that Mazda should see a bump in 2014 as the Mazda3 picks up steam.
While Mazda may have hoped its five-percent gain in North America was a bit higher, it shows solid progress on company CEO Masamichi Kogai and his promise to raise US sales to 400,000 units.
• Carmaker hikes full-year operating profit to €1.36 billion, its highest ever
• New-generation SKYACTIV models, structural reform efforts paying off
Hiroshima / Leverkusen, 25 April 2014. Mazda Motor Corporation posted the highest operating profit in its 94-year history for the fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2014. The Japanese carmaker earned a global operating profit of ¥182.1 billion* (€1.36 billion), a 238 per cent year-on-year increase and 12 per cent higher than the previous record (¥162 billion) set in 2008. On top of this, profits strengthened steadily over the course of year: The fourth-quarter return on sales reached 7.6 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent for the full year and 2.4 per cent for the prior year.
Mazda recorded gains in all other key categories, too, as ongoing structural reforms at the company gained traction. Global net earnings during fiscal 2013-14 quadrupled relative to the previous year to ¥135.7 billion (€1.01 billion) on revenue of ¥2.69 trillion (€20.1 billion), up 22 per cent. Worldwide sales volume, meanwhile, hit 1.33 million units, an 8 per cent gain.
In Europe**, unit sales were up 25 per cent to 163,000, also gaining steam in the second half. Among the major European markets, the UK outperformed with 35 per cent growth to 35,000 units, and Germany, Europe's largest market, saw a 20 per cent gain to 47,000. Revenue in the region rose to €3.5 billion, up 28 per cent in spite of a stagnant European passenger car market.
Elsewhere, Mazda boosted sales in Japan by 13 per cent to 244,000 units. Vehicle turnover in China was up 12 per cent to 196,000, while North American sales grew by 5 per cent to 391,000 units. Mazda remained strong down under, selling 104,000 units in Australia, where it is the number three brand with a 9.2 per cent market share.
Mazda's success can be attributed above all to its new-generation models. Featuring convention-defying SKYACTIV Technology and award-winning KODO – Soul of Motion designs, demand for the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6 has not let up. The all-new Mazda3, which arrived in the second-half, has also enjoyed a positive reception wherever it has been launched. The strong performance also reflects the company's ongoing structural reforms to improve costs and establish global production. Mazda has thus achieved its profit goals well ahead of schedule, and even managed to beat its all-time record operating profit despite a far less favourable yen exchange rate than in 2008.
By continuing its reform efforts, expanding global capacity – Mazda is now ramping up production at its new plant in Mexico and expanding its capabilities in Malaysia, Russia and Thailand – and pursuing an aggressive model-launch schedule, the unconventional carmaker expects its top and bottom lines to increase further during the current fiscal year. The company forecasts a rise in full-year operating profits of ¥28 billion to ¥210 billion (€1.56 billion) and net income of ¥160 billion (€1.19 billion), up ¥24 billion. Global revenue, meanwhile, is pegged at ¥2.9 trillion (€21.5 billion), up almost 8 per cent year-on-year.