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U.S. Auto Dealer Count, Throughput Dipped Slightly In 2022

Urban Science, which maintains a list of current new vehicle dealership and franchise information for all car and light-truck brands in the United States, noted continued stability for the U.S. automotive retail network in 2022. This came in spite of challenges the industry faced regarding inventory shortages and relatively high car-loan interest rates.

According to Urban Science’s 2022 Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), there were 27 more dealerships/rooftops (18,257) in the United States on Jan. 1, 2023 compared to the same date in 2022 (18,230). Additionally, the number of franchises (brands a dealership sells) decreased slightly from 31,646 to 31,554 year over year.

FAR noted a record 97% of U.S. core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) had virtually no net change in dealerships. The most significant state-level changes were net increases in California (+25) and Texas (+9) and net decreases in Michigan (-9) and Indiana (-7).

According to Urban Science, dealerships throughput (the number of vehicles a dealership sells) fell from 826 units to 750 units year over year — a level similar to those in 2011 and 2012. The firm projects throughput will rise to around 818 units per store in 2023, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

While overall retail sales declined in 2022, the industry saw upticks in two key areas: Non-retail sales grew 12%, driven primarily by fleet sales; and electric vehicle (EV) sales rose 46% compared to 2021. The share of EV sales also increased from 5% of all U.S. new-vehicle sales in 2021 to 7% in 2022 — a 40% increase year over year.

According to Urban Science, six states accounted for more than 10% of all EV sales in 2022, and two of these states (Texas and New Jersey) experienced EV sales growth of more than 60% year over year.

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