Mazda Motor Corporation's Mazda6 midsize sedan has been named "Car of the Year for 2004 in China" by Auto Club-Motor Trend magazine, the Chinese automotive publication associated with US-based Motor Trend. The announcement was made during a ceremony in Beijing on Monday, December 22.

Established in 2002, the Car of the Year in China award is presented to a single, outstanding automobile as selected by a panel of judges consisting of 17 top automotive journalists and specialists in China. Cars eligible for the 2004 award were launched in the Chinese market during calendar year 2003. A total of 30 models were considered for this year's award.

"Mazda6--or Atenza, as we call it in the Japanese market--continues to exceeded our expectations. It has already received more than 65 awards since its 2002 launch and, more importantly, has gained a strong reputation from consumers around the world," said Mazda's President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki. "We are honored to have it named Car of the Year in China, as this adds even further kudos to the Mazda6."

He also noted, "Success in China is critical to our long-term health-and this prestigious award demonstrates that we have the right product and reputation to be a success wherever we compete. We are working closely with all our partners in China to reinforce our local business, especially FAW Car Co., who manufactures the Mazda6." Mazda expects sales to reach 80,000 units in 2003, three and a half times the result from last year. The company is targeting as many as 100,000 sales in 2004 and moving to strengthen its distribution network by increasing the number of outlets to 140 by the end of 2004, and to 200 by the end of 2005, double the current number of Mazda dealers in China.

Production of the Mazda6 began in March 2003 at FAW Car Co., Ltd (FCC)'s assembly plant in Changchun, Jilin Province, and the vehicle has been enjoying favorable sales since launch. Mazda and FAW have been partners in China since 2001.

Auto Club-Motor Trend magazine is an automotive magazine under the China's biggest national media group, People's Daily, and is supported by US-based automotive magazine Motor Trend.