A little more than a year ago, General Motors had in excess of 6,000 dealerships across the country. In the viability plan GM submitted to Congress the automaker stated it would shut down 400 dealerships every year, shedding 1,600 of them by 2012. The General said it eventually wanted to get down to 4,000 showrooms at some point in the future. According the the latest reports, GM is well ahead of its own schedule: it will have just 4,500 dealership by the end of this year, a 1,650-site drop from last year.

Those are the most recent words of Mark Reuss, GM's head of North America. And while his assessment includes the latest round of arbitration hearings with dealers who didn't want their agreements terminated, there are still pending arbitration cases. Reuss' estimate is meant to take those into account, but since the original spread was anywhere from 4,100 to 5,300 dealers, his number could go up or down.

Even if GM ended up with 5,300 dealers at year's end it would be an 850-dealer drop from last year, more than doubling GM's original goal. Yes, it remains far more than the number of storefronts run by mass-market Toyota, which only has about 1,500. But it's a start.

[Source: Detroit News | Image: Mark Wilson/Getty]