It may still be early in 2013, but the first 2014 model has just appeared in Manitoba in the form of the redesigned Mazda 6. The new model made its way into local Mazda dealer showrooms in mid January.
"The Mazda 6 is the only full-size sedan -- other than premium luxury models -- that is built entirely in Japan," said Gerry Gordon Mazda sales rep Dave Hallock, adding that the new Kodo design gives the 2014 model a "prowling kind of stance".
"With the bolder grille and angel headlights, the new 6 has a more stylized, aggressive front end. It looks like a European sports car."
The 2014 Mazda 6 is powered by a SKYACTIV-G 2.5 L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with VVT which produces 184hp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. Hallock noted that fuel economy is outstanding, with the new 6 getting 55mpg (5.1L per 100km) on the highway and 37 mpg (7.6L per 100km) in city driving.
"The Mazda 6 is a must for people commuting to work from outside the city," he said. "The 6 has great stamina on the highway as well as being more fuel efficient.
"Mazda's products are all about the drive. With our SkyActiv technology, there are no batteries or buttons to push. You just drive."
The model's interior is modeled after Mazda's CX-5, which Hallock said has been rated among the top 10 vehicle interiors. "The styling is more exciting than most of the competition," he said.
The price for a new 2014 Mazda 6, which comes in GX, GS and GT trims, starts at $24,495 (plus freight and PDI).
"A number of people have been waiting to see the new Mazda 6," Hallock said. "People are impressed by the great new direction Mazda is going with the 6."
Winnipeg Mazda sales stars in top five in Western Region
Hallock had another outstanding sales year in 2012. He's been Gerry Gordon Mazda's top-selling sales rep for the past seven years and now for the first time has cracked the top five in Mazda sales for the Western Region (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta). Hallock finished in fourth place with 158 new car sales.
"My use of social media has helped," he said. "I currently have 3,600 followers on Twitter."
The champion Mazda sales rep for the region in 2012 -- for the third year in a row -- was Crown Mazda sales star Wes Giesbrechtwho sold 185 new cars and 100 fleet vehicles last year.
New vice-president at Jim Gauthier Chev
Congratulations to Ryan Pastetnik, who was recently promoted to vice-president at Jim Gauthier Chev.
"This was a big step in the right direction," said Pastetnik, a 13-year industry veteran who joined the Gauthier team as general sales manager just last February. "I'm looking forward to having a long career here and helping every employee to achieve his goals."
Meanwhile, veteran Gauthier sales rep Al Hirsch has come out of a short-lived retirement and resurfaced at Jim Gauthier Cadillac Buick. The 75-year-old Hirsch, who has been selling cars for more than 50 years, took his leave at the end of August.
"I wasn't happy being at home," Hirsch said. "So I talked to Jason Cross (Jim Gauthier Cadillac Buick vice-president) and I started back here at the beginning of November.
"I enjoy working with the Gauthier Group. It's like being with family."
Although Hirsch is now hanging his hat at the Cadillac store, he wants his customers to know that he can still sell them Chevrolet products.
Birchwood Chev welcomes back long-time sales reps
Two familiar faces are back at Birchwood Chev. Bruce Burns returned to work in mid-November after taking a year off for hip-replacement surgery. Burns has been a member of the Birchwood Chev sales team for more than 30 years.
"I'm feeling great and was looking forward to coming back to work," he said. Wayne Gelfant, a former used-car manager at Birchwood Chev, had been selling Chev products for more than 20 years when he left the industry in August.
"I thought I would try retirement," Gelfant said, "But after playing some golf and visiting family in Toronto, I got bored.
"I kept in touch with the guys at Birchwood and was encouraged to come back. It's good to be back."
Lee Blakesley joined the Birchwood Chev sales team in early November after retiring from a 39-year career with Sears Canada. For the past 22 years, his beat was major appliances.
"I retired in May and took the summer off, but I'm only 55 and wanted to do something else," said Blakesley, who's been a Birchwood Chev customer since 1975. "I've always been interested in autos, and I have a lot of sales experience."
Blakesley said he's already sold vehicles to some of his former customers in appliances.