Which dealership franchise you're dualed with is something that can help you, hurt you or sometimes raise an automaker's dander.

So says Richard Beattie, head of Mazda Motor Corp's North American Operations.

Mazda dealer-ship franchises are dualed with a lot of other brands.

Many of those dualings are with VW, "which brought us down when VW was in bad shape some years ago, but which is helping us now that VW is stronger."

But more than any other, Mazda is dualed with GM franchises. It's a coincidence. But, says Mr. Beattie, "it doesn't go over well with Ford," which owns a controlling interest in Mazda.

Mazda currently has 750 dealers, and is adding points in Los Angeles. In recent years, some dealers were asked to turn in their franchises.

"They just didn't have their hearts in it," says Mr. Beattie.