Mazda's gains have also come from its renewed focus on crossovers and promotions that more closely match those of bigger automakers, including 0 percent financing for 60 months and no payments for 90 days.
The new CX-30 crossover that went on sale in November was good for 20,743 sales in the first seven months of this year. That helped compensate for plummeting deliveries of the Mazda3 and Mazda6 passenger cars and the aging CX-3 subcompact crossover.
For the broader January-July period, Mazda's sales are down just 5.5 percent to 152,954.
"Our marketing plans were interrupted by COVID-19, yet CX-30 is still seeing success," Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations told Automotive News. "In fact, July was our best month ever," he said of the CX-30's results.
Another focus has been the three-row CX-9 crossover, a vehicle loved by the automotive media but mostly ignored by consumers in one of the industry's hottest segments. But CX-9 sales are now up 13 percent in the first seven months of the year, to 15,786.
"We've been focused on building the brand, and the success of CX-9 the last few months is a part of those results," Guyton said. "Over the last year, we have made several product enhancements, including captain's chairs, hands-free power liftgate and 9-inch full-color touch-screen display. That has helped its growth."
Looking forward, Mazda is quickly transforming its dealerships through a facility upgrade program. It also launched a new finance captive, Mazda Financial Service, this year through a partnership with Toyota Financial Services. The brand also is pushing sales of certified pre-owned vehicles, which saw a 25 percent sales increase in July, nearing a record.
Also helping Mazda's retail performance, Guyton said, is its new ad campaign — "Rediscover the Road" — which promotes a family drive as a responsible alternative to staying indoors.
"Our approach is to help people safely navigate this new normal in a positive, uplifting way, and our sales performance in recent months helps validate this approach," he said. "In this era of uncertainty, we can all relate to relate to the notion of taking a break and hitting the road."