U.S. auto sales per dealership may rise to a record in 2012 as demand increases and automakers’ dealership networks stabilize, according to an industry consulting firm.
Sales per dealer increased 9.6 percent to 719 vehicles last year, dealership consultant Urban Science said today in its annual Automotive Franchise Activity Report.
The figure may rise more than 9 percent to 785, surpassing the record of 784 vehicles per dealer in 2005, the Detroit-based firm said in an e-mailed statement.
The number of U.S. auto dealerships rose 0.6 percent last year to 17,767, led by Chrysler Group LLC’s additions of stores selling cars from its majority owner Fiat S.p.A., according to the report.
The increase in the dealer count follows a 4.4 percent drop in 2010 and 8 percent decline in 2009.
“Automakers and dealers are in a good, profitable position,” John Frith, an Urban Science vice president, said in the statement. “To maintain that momentum and keep profitability high, they will need to resist the urge to abandon the expense controls and processes instituted the past few years.”
The number of U.S. auto dealerships usually falls about 2 percent annually, said Urban Science, which has compiled its annual report since 1990. Chrysler was the largest contributor to the industry breaking that trend in 2011, adding 135 Fiat dealerships and 50 Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep stores.