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Automotive retail dealer network rises 13% in new-vehicle sales

The most significant state-level changes were net increases in California, Texas and Florida, and net decreases in New York, Nebraska, Virginia and Illinois

Detroit—Urban Science has announced highlights from its 2023 year-end Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), which shows continued stability for the U.S. automotive retail dealer network and a 13% rise in new-vehicle sales, primarily driven by non-retail sales.

As of Dec. 31, 2023, there were 90 more dealerships (rooftops) in the U.S. compared to year-end 2022 (18,347 in 2023 compared to 18,257 in 2022); the number of franchises—brands a dealership sells—decreased from 31,554 in 2022 to 30,504 at year-end 2023 (a year-over-year decrease of 1,050 franchises).

Dealership throughput increases to highest level since 2019

Annual dealership throughput—the number of vehicles a dealership sells—rose from 759 in 2022 to 851 in 2023 (an increase of 92 units), the highest level the U.S. automotive retail dealer network has achieved since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent chip shortage. Based on a sales forecast of 16.1 million units, Urban Science projects throughput to rise to 880 units—a new post-pandemic record—in 2024.

Vast majority of CBSAs remain stable

According to the Urban Science 2023 year-end FAR, 96% of core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) in the U.S. had virtually no net change (+/- one store) in dealerships. Eighty-six percent of CBSAs had no actual net change in dealerships; 4% of CBSAs (net) lost at least one store, and 10% (net) gained at least one store.

The most significant state-level changes were net increases in California (+31), Texas (+18) and Florida (+15), and net decreases in New York (-6), Nebraska (-4), Virginia (-3) and Illinois (-3).

“As the automotive industry continues to transform at a record pace, it’s critical automakers tap the power of industry sales data updated daily to understand and anticipate the wide-ranging and quickly changing needs and behaviors of their customers and prospects,” said Mitch Phillips, director, global data, Urban Science.

“Preparing to optimally sell and service EVs with a strong base of ICE vehicles still on the road requires high-stakes decision-making that should be rooted in science, not speculation, to help manufacturers and their retailers better compete and achieve sustainable efficiency and profitability during the next 10 years and beyond.”

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