Big 3 shedding, consolidating dealerships

Detroit's Big 3 American automakers account for roughly half of new car sales in the United States. So how do you explain that they hold almost two-thirds of all the new car dealerships in the country between them? The automakers themselves recognize the problem, and have been closing dealerships faster than you can say "foreign competition".

The Automotive News Dealer Census shows that, as of the start of this year, GM, Ford and Chrysler had 14,199 dealerships across the United States, 621 fewer than at the start of last year. The closures reflect a growing trend of reduction in the number of dealerships and franchises. Today U.S. carmakers have nearly 5,000 domestic dealerships fewer than they did in 1980. The closings began in earnest five years ago when the Big 3 closed 256 outlets in 2003. Of the 513 dealerships that closed last year in the United States, 484 were for American automakers. While GM continues to lead with the most outlets in the country, it closed 238 dealerships and 227 franchises itself last year. Ford closed 214, while Chrysler closed 164. Both GM and Chrysler are also campaigning for its dealerships to consolidate between brands: The General is aiming to combine Pontiac, Buick and GMC into single dealerships, with luxury dealerships focusing on Cadillac, Saab and HUMMER, while Chrysler LLC is undertaking Project Genesis to consolidate Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep franchises into single outlets.

[Source: Automotive News – subs. req'd, Photos by Justin Sullivan and Roberto Schmidt/Getty]

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