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Bob Aldons: And good morning and welcome to What’s in Your Garage? Today I’m very, very pleased to have the Senior Manager, Public Relations for Mazda Australia, Karla Leach with me.
Karla Leach: Hi, Bob.
Bob Aldons: Hello, Karla.
Karla Leach: Thanks for having me along today. Happy to be here.
Bob Aldons: Yeah, good stuff. Karla, this is a little bit fun, not serious, so we’re going to talk about your first car. What was the first car that you had when you were driving on the road?
Karla Leach: It was a Ford Laser, a silver one, hatchback, whose name was [Laurissa 00:00:34].
Bob Aldons: Laurissa?
Karla Leach: Yeah, Laurissa the Laser.
Bob Aldons: Okay, and how long did you have Laurissa for?
Karla Leach: I had Laurissa for about a year, but she had unfortunately been in a serious accident before I bought her, which I wasn’t aware of, and had a bit of a leaking problem in her bonnet and dashboard. So living in Melbourne, whenever it rained, she filled up with rain in the front foot well, so I moved on and moved to a more conservative but similar model, I moved to a Ford Meteor instead.
Bob Aldons: That’s the Laser sedan.
Karla Leach: Correct, the Laser with the boot.
Bob Aldons: Wow. Why Fords at that time?
Karla Leach: When I was getting my licence, that was very much the cool car for a girl to have.
Bob Aldons: That must be in the early ’80s, was it?
Karla Leach: Correct.
Bob Aldons: There you go.
Karla Leach: So yes, that was definitely a pack mentality, to join the pack.
Bob Aldons: Yeah, I was selling Fords back in Laser and Meteor times, and they brought out the Meteor and called it that because they didn’t have a medium-sized sedan, and not long after the Meteor came out, they had a thing called a Ford Telstar.
Karla Leach: Yes.
Bob Aldons: So yes, that’s very interesting. Now, Karla, let’s just diverge a little bit from that. Tell us what you’re doing right now.
Karla Leach: Obviously, I head up the PR function at Mazda Australia, so lots of exciting times ahead with lots of new product launches coming up.
Bob Aldons: Yeah.
Karla Leach: And also looking after the brand in the public domain.
Bob Aldons: What does that mean to the average person out in the street?
Karla Leach: I’m the conduit between the public and also the media, if they want to know anything about Mazda.
Bob Aldons: So you’ve got to deal with all the motoring journalists around any?
Karla Leach: I do, and potentially also customers, if they feel like they want to know something, I’m definitely the point of call for that.
Bob Aldons: Okay, and what do you put Mazda’s success down, say in the last 10 years in Australia? Because Mazda hasn’t been that successful around the world as they have in Australia, have they?
Karla Leach: Australia is actually the most successful market in the world for Mazda.
Bob Aldons: Yes.
Karla Leach: We have a fabulous dealer network who not only sell lots of cars but service the cars and look after customers. We have an amazing product, really great design that’s distinctive but also very accessible, so a lot of Australians have the ability to buy Mazda, enjoy some really nice, stylish design.
Bob Aldons: This what appeals to me about Mazda, that their design’s not way out. It’s stylish but conservative.
Karla Leach: Yes.
Bob Aldons: Is that a fair comment?
Karla Leach: I think so, but it’s also a little bit different probably from the pack, so you feel like you’ve made a conscious decision when you buy a Mazda, for something that probably does look a little bit more on the stylish end of the spectrum.
Bob Aldons: Yes.
Karla Leach: The other thing is that Mazda is generally known as a very reliable car; so reliability, particularly for families, is really important, so you don’t want to feel like you could break down at any moment, and Mazda has a very strong track record in the area.
Bob Aldons: And Mazda has done that well without really a fleet portfolio, certainly not dealing with the rental car industry as well.
Karla Leach: No, we really focus on selling cars to private buyers, and our dealer network is definitely set up to deal with a private buyer. So consumers in Australia who want to buy a car, we’re definitely set up to help you buy that, and also look after your car after you’ve purchased it.
Bob Aldons: So Mazda has style, reliability and a great reputation?
Karla Leach: Yup, that’s probably a good recipe.
Bob Aldons: Yup. Now, tell me what you currently have in your garage at the moment.
Karla Leach: I’m currently driving a Mazda CX-5 GT with white leather, which I’m enjoying. I have two teenage daughters, so they’re in and out of the back seat a lot.
Bob Aldons: And no animals?
Karla Leach: No animals in our house, but sometimes some of their friends can be a little bit that way. A lot of stuff gets thrown in the back on weekends, and a lot of kids are in and out of the back seat, so it’s a perfect car for me.
Bob Aldons: Yeah, good stuff. You keep your cars for about six months, you said to me earlier?
Karla Leach: Yeah, six months. I get to maybe choose a few different things throughout the range to make sure I keep up to date. But six, five, seems to be the sweet spot for me and my family.
Bob Aldons: Very good. Now, the last question is really one out of left field, and that is, if money was no object, what is your dream car?
Karla Leach: Well, I’m going to show my soccer mum tendencies here, but I’d love a Range Rover Evoque.
Bob Aldons: A Range Rover Evoque?
Karla Leach: A white one.
Bob Aldons: A white one?
Karla Leach: It’s maybe a little bit Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but that’s my dream.
Bob Aldons: If you’ve got as much as you want, you could be buying a Maserati SUV, or a Bentley SUV, so still stick with the Range Rover?
Karla Leach: Yeah, I’ll stick with the Range Rover.
Bob Aldons: Yeah, good girl. Karla, it’s been an absolute pleasure having a chat to you. It’s only a five-minute podcast, but it’s good to get the female perspective on cars, and thanks very much for spending time.
Karla Leach: Thanks Bob, it’s great to be along.