Mazda says aims to sell about 500,000 Mazda3 vehicles a year


TOKYO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Mazda Motor Corp aims tosell around 500,000 redesigned Mazda3 compact cars a year aroundthe world, Chief Executive Officer Masamichi Kogai said onWednesday, setting the highest target ever for its best-sellingmodel.

The Mazda3, also known as Axela in Japan, last yearaccounted for about 30 percent of Mazda's global sales of 1.25million vehicles. About 40 percent of the Mazda3 vehicles weresold in North America, the company's biggest market.

"We need to achieve this target as we try to hit our annualvehicle sales of 1.7 million vehicles set in our mid-term plan,"Managing Executive Officer Masahiro Moro, who oversees globalsales, told reporters at a news conference where the companyunveiled the Mazda3 for the home market.

The Mazda3 competes against popular vehicles in the Csegment such as Volkswagen AG's Golf and Ford MotorCo's Focus.

Hiroshima-based Mazda fully introduced its fuel-efficient,profitable Skyactiv technology in the redesigned Mazda3. Thevehicle went on sale in the United States in September and willgo sale in Europe in this month and in Japan in November.

Mazda is offering a gas-electric hybrid model for the firsttime, using Toyota Motor Corp's hybrid technology, inaddition to gasoline and diesel powertrains. The hybrid modelwill be offered only in Japan, Kogai said.

In Europe, Mazda aims to sell around 60,000 Mazda3 a year,and will offer both gasoline and diesel models, while in NorthAmerica it is offering just the gasoline powertrain.

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