SALT LAKE CITY -- If Mazda wants to break from the rest of the Japanese automotive pack, it has made a dynamic move with a showroom design unveiled here last week.
A riot of blaring orange, vibrant green and electric purple, the new Mazda dealership is miles from the conservative grays and whites of most showrooms.
"We wanted something that stood out, something that matched our idea that Mazda is fast, fun and cool," said Charlie Hughes, president of Mazda North American Operations.
Bountiful Mazda, nestled hard against the mountains north of Salt Lake City, is the first Mazda dealership to embrace the design.
The 19,000-square-foot store sits on slightly more than two acres of land. The building and land cost about $2.3 million, not counting the capitalization for the dealership, said dealer principal Michael MacDonald.
Bountiful's showroom is the premier store in Mazda's effort to upgrade the franchise from its second-tier status.
Mazda dealers could use the boost. Mazda sold 258,213 vehicles in 2002, a 4.2 percent decline from the previous year.
The showroom was planned by Design Forum of Dayton, Ohio, although dealers are allowed to tinker with the blueprints. In Bountiful's case, the layout was flip-flopped to account for the slope of the surrounding land.
So far, only 20 of Mazda's 700 dealers are building the new showroom, said Jim Hoostal, Mazda director of dealer development. Hoostal thinks the arrival of new products such as the Mazda6, Mazda3 and RX-8 sports car will persuade dealers to change their showrooms without his having to resort to arm-twisting.
The automaker isn't pushing the concept hard. Hoostal declined to say what its targeted number of redesigned dealerships is, nor would he give details of Mazda's financial support program.