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MAZDA URGES ITC TO REJECT CLAIMS OF INJURY ON MINIVAN SALES

 MAZDA URGES ITC TO REJECT CLAIMS OF INJURY ON MINIVAN SALES
 WASHINGTON, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- In testimony today before the International Trade Commission, Mazda firmly maintained that sales of Japanese minivans in the United States "have not had a measurable effect" on sales of minivans produced by the Big Three automakers.
 In urging the commission to reject the Big Three's claims of injury, Janet Thompson, vice president for marketing for Mazda Motor of America, Inc., pointed to their overwhelming dominance of the U.S. minivan market and said the ITC's investigation "clearly demonstrates" the Big Three have suffered no injury from sales of Mazda and other Japanese minivans.
 "How anyone could seriously contend that Chrysler is suffering material injury is beyond our understanding," Thompson said, adding that Chrysler's "market share and sales volume are growing" and that Chrysler "continues to be extremely profitable on minivans."
 The Big Three currently have a share of 90 percent of the minivan market; Chrysler alone has a 50 percent share.
 Thompson also said that Mazda does not compete against Ford, GM and Chrysler for the same minivan buyers.
 She pointed to an independent survey by Maritz Marketing Research which confirmed that potential buyers of the Mazda MPV "simply do not look at" the Ford Aerostar, the GM Astro or the GMC Safari. Mazda's MPV also does not compete with the longer-body versions of minivans Chrysler manufacturers in St. Louis.
 Mazda does compete with Chrysler's regular-length Caravan and Voyager minivans, but Thompson noted that these vehicles are made in Canada and are not considered "domestic" minivans by the ITC. Sales of these Caravan and Voyager models are therefore "irrelevant" to any ITC determination of whether the domestic minivan industry has been injured by Japanese minivan sales.
 Thompson also testified that the price for the Mazda MPV is higher than that of the comparably equipped Chrysler, GM and Ford minivans. "No matter how we analyze the prices, we see that Chrysler consistently undersells Mazda by a significant amount. Ford and GM do so as well."
 "The reality is that consumers who walk into Mazda showrooms know what they want and have done their homework. Our customers are highly educated and they quickly determine that the MPV is priced higher than domestic minivans on a comparably equipped basis."
 As further evidence that the domestic industry has not been injured, Thompson pointed to its increase in minivan market share since the first quarter of 1992 over the same period in 1991. To meet increasing demand, Chrysler, the market leader, recently added a third shift to its St. Louis assembly plant.
 Any sales or profit declines by the Big Three "were the result of factors having nothing to do with imports," Thompson said. The recession, the Gulf War, strategic misjudgements, consumer preference and other factors explain why several of the domestic models have declined in popularity, she said.
 George Peterson, well-known expert on automobile products, also testified on behalf of Mazda. He stated that independent surveys show that purchasers of Japanese minivans "very rarely even consider" domestically produced minivans and that Japanese minivans are "priced higher" than comparably equipped domestic minivans. On Tuesday, Mazda said it was astonished at the final margin results announced by the Department of Commerce.
 "By any reasonable standard Mazda is not dumping minivans in the United States. The decision is clearly wrong," Mazda said in a statement.
 -0- 5/21/92
 /CONTACT: Randy Boileau, 313-393-3315, or Frank Kauffman, 202-944-5190, both for Mazda/ CO: Mazda ST: District of Columbia IN: AUT SU:


IH -- DC027 -- 2965 05/21/92 15:07 EDT
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Date:May 21, 1992
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