I would like to extend my gratitude to shareholders and other investors, and all of the Mazda Group's stakeholders including customers, suppliers, and local communities, for your continued support and understanding.
In FY March 2018, under its Structural Reform Stage 2, a medium-term business plan, we have worked to offer appealing products that provide both driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance, to achieve qualitative growth in all areas of the business and to further enhance brand value. Global sales volume was up 4.6% from the prior year and set a new record at 1,631 thousand units. Net sales were ¥3.474 trillion, up ¥259.7 billion from the prior year, owing to increasing sales and a devaluation of the yen. Operating income was ¥146.4 billion, up ¥20.7 billion, from the prior year. Net income was ¥112.1 billion, up ¥18.3 billion from the prior year.
In an effort to strengthen sales and improve earnings, in FY March 2019 we will introduce new and updated models and launch the new CX-8 in overseas markets including Australia and China. In terms of production, we will make the system for the production of crossovers more flexible by introducing a night shift at Hofu Plant No. 2.
As for business targets for FY March 2019, we expect to exceed our target of global sales volume of 1.65 million units. Although the equity ratio will be slightly below the target, it is expected to steadily improve. As the result of the failure to meet sales volume and earnings targets in the U.S. as well as costs to comply with environmental regulations and expenses associated with the restructuring of the sales network in the U.S., the target for operating return on sales has been lowered from 5% or more to 3.0%.
The next medium-term business plan, which will be based on Structural Reform Stage 2, is being formulated. Ahead of the announcement of the next medium-term business plan, we have established the basic direction of our future initiatives for sustainable growth.
We regard the next three years as a time to secure a firm foothold for solid growth from FY March 2022. We will work to enhance product competitiveness through the development and introduction of next-generation products and new technologies and accelerate the reform of sales network, particularly in the U.S., while maintaining stable growth of 50,000 units per year. In addition, we will promote the alliances with Toyota Motor Corporation and other companies and work to establish a production system with an annual global capacity of 2 million units in FY March 2024, with the start-up of the new factory in the U.S.
By introducing products with outstanding environmental and safety performance, we aim to resolve social issues, such as the conservation of the global environment and the realization of a safe and secure society, while enhancing our corporate value over the medium to long term.
We will also continue to engage in timely and appropriate information disclosure and constructive dialogue with shareholders, while at the same time emphasizing corporate governance as an important management issue for continuous growth and the enhancement of corporate value over the medium-to-long term.
I ask for the continued support of our shareholders and investors going forward.
Mazda Motor Corporation
President and CEO