Getting the right cars to the right customers at the right time

Mazda is in the fortunate position that global demand for new models exceeds the capacity to build them. However, that throws up its own unique set of problems. Here Paul Crisp, Mazda’s sales planning and distribution manager reveals all.

“It’s our department’s responsibility to get 50,000 of the right cars to the right customers at the right time. It’s a straightforward goal but achieving it requires an awful lot of forecasting and planning.



The cars are built 6000 miles away in Japan and they come to the UK by boat. With the journey alone taking more than a month, the supply process is in many ways a triumph of skilful second guessing. We work around 24 months ahead of time to ensure that customers don’t have to wait an unreasonable amount of time after ordering their new car.


Of course we don’t know exactly what people will want nearly two years before they order it. But our aim is to anticipate their demand by predicting body style, fuel type, engine and transmission. We then refine this on a monthly basis because it needs to be as accurate as possible.


Alex Janes, our sales planning and allocations manager, provides the factory with a six month forecast by model. This has to be as accurate as possible because it’s what the factory uses as a guide for buying the correct components to build the cars. And for obvious reasons the factory doesn’t want to purchase parts that may become obsolete before they’re used.

It’s a complex matrix for Alex because dealers as well as Mazda Motors UK order cars. Our dealers are best placed to know the colours and trims that sell in their local market. But with up to 600 colour and specification combinations within some of our seven models it’s impossible for dealers to cover all the bases. That’s where we step in. Dealers have access to our central stock for cars in colour and specification combinations that they may not have ordered themselves, or be able to source from other dealers. We also order new models, model upgrades and special versions ahead of the on-sale date to ensure that dealers can satisfy customer demand.


Flexibility is the key to keeping up with customer demand. Bearing this in mind, we enable dealers to request delivery of specific cars that might already be on the way to the UK, ordered by MMUK. It ensures the customer gets their car much quicker than having to wait for it to be built. The result of this kind of flexibility and the accuracy in our predictions mean the average time between a customer ordering a car and taking delivery is from two to four weeks. Even if I do say so myself, that’s pretty good going considering it takes around four months from the point we order a car to it arriving in the UK.”

Time line: How Mazdas make it to the UK


  • Customer orders car
  • Towards the end of every month, dealers are asked to file their orders
  • These are then collated along with the cars Mazda Motors UK has ordered
  • Around the 9th of the following month, the order is placed with the factory
  • The car is built the month after that
  • Ships leave so regularly that cars are only on the quayside in Japan for an average of nine days
  • It takes 34 days from when the cars leave the port in Japan until their arrival in Zeebrugge, Belgium
  • The cars are prepared for delivery to the UK in Zeebrugge. We allow 15 days from when they are requested to when they are delivered to the dealership
  • They come into the UK via Rosyth in Scotland, Killingholme Lincolnshire, Purfleet in Essex or directly through the Channel Tunnel
  • Cars are then transported to the dealership for collection by the customer

Paul Crisp
Paul Crisp, Mazda sales planning and distribution manager