Mazda dealers found a strong partner in the brand’s captive lender

At the same time, consumers had retreated to their residences to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the auto industry was at a standstill, waiting for production to restart and dealerships to reopen.

“When COVID first started, there was nothing more important than health and safety,” Brandon Apon, general manager of Mall of Georgia Mazda in Buford, Ga., told Automotive News. “Everyone was thinking in the back of their mind about how we were going to stay in business, but at the forefront really was the safety of family and community.”

By the time Mazda Financial Services came into play, the lockdown had already caused a massive slowdown in the industry.

April 2020 sales had dropped nearly 47 percent to 711,346 vehicles, compared with the same month in 2019, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. Through the first four months of 2020, sales were off by over 1 million vehicles, a decrease of 21%.

Mazda’s sales slid 44 percent to 10,940 vehicles, compared with April 2019.

“In April, no one was buying cars, but there was a perfect storm coming into May because we had ground stock — probably more than we needed,” Apon said. But now the company had a captive lender committed solely to Mazda loans and was interested in seeing specific stores succeed, he added.

In May, Mazda sales of 24,933 vehicles represented just a 1 percent decrease compared with the year before and in June, dealers sold 25,326 vehicles, an increase of 11 percent. Mazda ended the year flat with sales topping 279,076 vehicles.

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