ORLANDO, Fla. -- Don't blow it, Mazda dealers are telling the factory.
Mazda dealers with long memories remember the early 1990s when Mazda rolled out six products in 18 months and promptly ran out of money to launch them properly.
This year Mazda will introduce several new or redesigned products. Dealers who attended the make meeting here want to be sure everything 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 scheduled this month. Mazda also has confirmed it will sell a somewhat larger crossover, likely called CX-9, later this year.
Mazda wants a hybrid version of the Tribute SUV. There also are rumors of a MazdaSpeed3, as well as a small Mazda3-based crossover. Mazda officials would not confirm that those products will arrive.
Dealers said Mazda will unveil the other products at the national dealer meeting in San Diego in May.
In line with the vehicle launches, Mazda will increase marketing spending significantly this year. Although the full-year spending figure is not final, ad spending in February is up 55 percent from 2005 levels, said Randy Hiley, owner of Hiley Motorcars (Mazda-VW-Saturn) in Arlington, Texas, and chairman of the Mazda dealer council.
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, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, said Mazda is going to concentrate on "blocking and tackling" in getting the new vehicles to market.
Dealer profitability also is still a concern. Mazda has no plans to alter dealer discount margins, O'Sullivan said.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]