Don't blow it.
Mazda dealers with long memories remember the early 1990s, when Mazda introduced six products in 18 months and promptly ran out of money to launch them properly.
This year, Mazda will introduce four all-new or redesigned products. Dealers attending Sunday's make meeting want to be sure it works this time.
"Some manufacturers think new product is the instant pudding that will solve all their problems but it
isn't necessarily," said Joe Shaker, a multifranchise dealer in Wellesley, Mass.
"With Mazda, there is a real sense of urgency. It took so long to get all the pieces in place. We're not going to screw this up."
Job 1 of the five-passenger CX-7 crossover is due this month. Mazda also has confirmed it will sell a somewhat larger crossover - likely called the CX-9 - this year.
Mazda wants a hybrid version of the Tribute SUV.
There also are rumors of a MazdaSpeed3, as well as of a smaller Mazda3-based crossover. Mazda officials would not confirm if those products will arrive.
Dealers said Mazda will unveil the other products - whatever they may be - at the national dealer meeting in San Diego in May.
In line with the vehicle launches, Mazda will increase its marketing spending significantly this year.
Although the full-year spending is not complete, ad spending in February is up 55 percent over 2005 levels, said dealer council chairman Randy Hiley, owner of Hiley Motorcars (Mazda-VW-Saturn) in Arlington, Texas.
It's going to take more than a bigger budget to break through the wall of advertising from Toyota, Honda and Nissan, Shaker said.
"We don't have $1 billion to spend like Toyota," Shaker said. "But you can find really good brand-name clothes at T.J. Maxx. We need to think like that."
Jim O'Sullivan, president of Mazda North American Operations, said Mazda is going to concentrate on "blocking and tackling" in getting the new vehicles to market.
Dealer profitability remains a concern. Mazda has no plans to alter dealer discount margins, O'Sullivan said.
Mazda also reaffirmed its decision to pay $300 a vehicle to dealers who build an exclusive showroom. That offer will run through 2008.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]