Mazda last week largely sidestepped a potentially contentious issue with dealers who have accused the automaker of illegally giving some stores a pricing advantage over others through its revamped retailer bonus program.
The leadership presentations during Mazda's make meeting at the NADA Show did not directly address the dealers' lawsuits, according to dealers in the room.
Following the meeting, Masahiro Moro, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, said the automaker is willing to work with any disgruntled retailers.
"Our program has been designed to be fair to everybody, and we're going to work one by one with those who've raised their voices," he told Automotive News. "We're always happy to interact with those dealers and get their understanding so the issue will hopefully go away."
Mazda executives used the meeting to persuade more dealers to overhaul showrooms to help increase sales.
The brand has previously called for renovation or construction of 300 next-generation stores by 2021. From 2018 through 2021, Mazda will invest $362 million to revitalize the U.S. network.
Moro noted that roughly 40 percent of its U.S. network has upgraded and that about 70 percent of Mazda's sales are through those dealerships.
At the make meeting, he appealed to retailers to continue investing in the brand.
"We had a positive meeting because Mazda has gained a lot of momentum in terms of business cost improvement," Moro said. "Our focus is continuing to improve the business quality and retention."
Jim Moshier, general sales and service manager at Ricart Automotive in Columbus, Ohio, described the meeting as "subdued, but good."
He said the automaker is focusing on improving its customer experience and recently rolled out a training platform to combat a shortage of body-shop technicians.
The newly redesigned Mazda3 also was a major topic of discussion.
The vehicle is offered as either a sedan or hatchback with an optional 1.8-liter diesel engine or a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-X engine. The Skyactiv-X is Mazda's first production engine for the North American market to employ spark-controlled compression ignition, which combines gasoline and diesel combustion traits.
"Our dealers have very strong confidence in Mazda3," Moro said. "An all new model will really help."
Moro said the vehicle should help boost the brand's car sales, while its crossover sales are expected to continue to remain strong in 2019.