A survey of auto dealers by investment analysts shows that U.S. automakers are losing the support of their retail channel.

The Big Three are losing ground with retailers on all sides, including sales expectations, brand desirability, and projected investments in dealerships. On the other side of the coin, Japanese automakers have continued to improve their reputations among auto dealers. Rapid introduction of fresh, new product is seen as a particular strength of the overseas brands.

The survey results showed Toyota as the brand dealers would most like to sell, followed by Nissan and Honda. Saturn was the highest placed U.S. brand, with a fourth place ranking. Ford placed last in the list of 20 brands. The Lincoln/Mercury dealer network that Mark Fields referred to this morning as "the envy of the world" (see our liveblog of Ford's "Way Forward" announcement), placed 18th. Complete results here.

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