DETROIT -- Mazda North American Operations has trimmed its U.S. retail network by nearly 30 percent since 2005, CEO Jim OSullivan said.
Mazdas U.S. dealership count peaked at more than 900 and now stands at about 640, OSullivan said today during remarks to the Automotive Press Association here.
Mazda achieved the reductions through orderly consolidation, OSullivan said. The company boosted dealer profitability by helping dealers increase sales per store and revenue from fixed operations, he added.
Its not like we went out with a bag of money and bought them up, OSullivan said. This positions us well to weather this very tough market.
Six years ago, OSullivan said, 19 percent of Mazda dealerships sold the brand exclusively. Today, he said, 51 percent Mazda dealerships are exclusive stores. Those dealerships account for 75 percent of Mazdas retail unit sales, he added.
Late last year, Mazda shifted from Ford Motor Credit Co. to Chase Auto Finance as its primary retail lender. That switch, OSullivan said, has been very successful. Chase is financing customers with lower credit scores than Ford Credit did, he said.
Mazda has little new-vehicle inventory at ports, OSullivan said. When consumer demand shifted from SUVs and crossovers to small cars last summer, he said, production was shifted to focus on the Mazda3 and Mazda 5, he said.
Mazda deliberately kept more vehicles at ports in January to help dealers sell their 2009 Mazda3 inventory, OSullivan said. The company expects to start shipping 2010 Mazda3s to dealers next week.
OSullivan says the base price of the 2010 Mazda3 will be $15,045.