One of the setbacks of being an automotive journalist is not having to buy a vehicle, having access to different test vehicles each week.
You will say to me: “But where is the disadvantage in all this? “. Well, in the fact of not being able to live a traditional shopping experience which, for me, constitutes an enriching experience every time.
That said, it is by playing a secondary role that I therefore enjoy shopping for cars. Often, to help relatives who find it difficult to find their way around and who do not appreciate having to live through the stress of dealing with a “tank seller”. Because a still very pejorative image sticks to the skin of those who practice this profession, although we cannot put everyone in the same basket. Obviously, I would like to tell you that the days of kicking the tire and saying “Hello my little lady” are over, but that is not yet the case. Thus, it is with the eye of a fine fox that I set foot every time in a car dealership, whatever it is.
In shopping mode
Soon, someone around me has to change car. Like much of the population, it targets a compact SUV. Four-wheel drive, with reasonable equipment, which must include heated seats, a good rear view camera and incidentally, Apple CarPlay. In short, nothing more classic. After eliminating several models, the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 finish in the top three.
So I first went to a dealership Mazda to get a real quote. Arrived there, the place literally dazzled me. Astonished, I even forgot the reasons for my presence there, observing the range of models and their arrangement in the showroom. And immediately, I understood. Mazda has done everything it can to take it to the next level.
Gone are the days of floor prices, entry-level models and $ 200 per car profit. Mazda now wants to highlight the customer experience, the quality of its products, while increasing its profits and further developing customer loyalty. Clearly, we follow in the footsteps of Subaru which has been adopting this strategy for several years.
You should know that in the industry, Subaru has been in an excellent position for several years. First, concessions are lucrative and very difficult for an investor to obtain. The products are as profitable as the service department, the vehicles have good resale value, and the customer base is some of the most skilled in the industry. In other words, often more fortunate than the one who knocks on the door of Bmw or Mercedes-Benz, although she is generally more pragmatic than average.
So there you have it, Mazda’s approach is increasingly compared to it. Of course, the products differ, but the transactional average has increased a lot for some time. Mazda therefore no longer sells at a discount and does not seek to increase volume at all costs, a bit like Nissan. We are now talking about profitability per vehicle sold and a premium experience, which could increasingly resemble that of European brands. Do not look for why Mazda has recently offered Signature or very luxurious versions, which can easily be compared to what is offered Audi or Mercedes-Benz. For example, a CX-5 Signature who does not have much to envy a Mercedes-Benz GLC, even if with comparable equipment, the latter is sold at $ 15,000 more.
Now, because this explains it, it’s also easy to see why the Mazda3 sees its sales drop drastically. Because anyone who used to look for a compact at the best price in town no longer finds his account there, turning instead to Honda, Hyundai, Kia or Nissan. Then, by examining the question of products, we can also draw a parallel with Subaru, by the multiplication of all-wheel-drive models offered at Mazda. We could even speak of common associations, since Mazda like Subaru have interesting commercial agreements with Toyota. As proof, the existence of a Mazda2 renamed Toyota Yaris with us, and a Subaru BRZ jointly developed with Toyota.
No, the transaction has still not been concluded, the main concerned being keen and with good reason to know the offers for the Sportage and the RAV4. Moreover, at the time of this writing, the visit to the side of Kia and Toyota had still not been made.
That said, this pleasant visit proved to me that, unlike others, some dealership owners do everything they can to provide their customers with a superb experience, allowing Mazda to enhance its image, despite a drastic modification. of its strategic plan. A formula which seems to me to be frankly successful, which only the future can confirm.
In closing, I would like to mention that the arrogance of the last Subaru salesman that I met last year did nothing to enhance the image of the dealership that employed him. Like what, beyond all the work done by the builder and the business owners, there is also the employee. The one who can ruin everything, or give you one of the most beautiful transactional experiences of your life.