U.S. dealer network expands for first time in years

August 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Two years after domestic automakers like General Motors and Chrysler were forced to shrink their dealership networks in order to stave off bankruptcy, the number of car dealerships in the U.S. grew for the first time in ten years, according to a recent report by Detroit-based Urban Science.

At the beginning of July, there were approximately 17,725 dealerships, which represents a 0.4 percent increase over January 1st, when the total was 17,659, according to Automotive News. Overall, the number of dealerships has been consolidated in recent times - this figure is 29 percent lower than 1990 despite increases in sales and population.

The number of franchises represented by the dealers dropped, however, mainly due to the end of the Mercury brand and the shrinking of Lincoln dealer networks. Franchises were down 2.4 percent, or 29,360 total. This figure is calculated based on the number of brands that a dealer sells - for example, a Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealer would once have represented three franchises but now may be down to one or two.

Many consumers opt to go to their dealer for tune-ups and vehicle diagnostics, but those who want most bang for their buck should shop around at third-party certified repair shops as well, as they may be able to get the work done for a cheaper price.

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