The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 April 2007

Now at fewer locations

While rumors swirl about how the domestic automakers are an endangered species, their dealership networks are definitely shrinking: last year, Detroit dropped 462 dealerships, and so far this year they're down 480 more.

I suspect most of this shrinkage is in highly-competitive metropolitan areas where it's been dog-eat-dog and beyond for years. At least with GM and Chrysler, the goal seems to be consolidating as many brands as possible on the same lot: Hudiburg, which has been selling Chevrolets here since forever, added Pontiac and GMC some years back; now they've moved the Buick line, once dualed with Nissan, to that same lot. (The Nissan dealership remains on I-240.) Group 1's Smicklas Chevrolet, which absorbed the old Gandara Buick on May, has since dropped Buick altogether. Bob Moore, the last tenant of the infamous Lynn Hickey lot at I-44 and May, moved their Dodge store into their Chrysler-Jeep facility on the Northwest Distressway last year. Bob Moore also acquired the Saab franchise last year and now sells the odd Swedemobile alongside Cadillac in their humongous Broadway cluster.

The downside of multiple lines on the same lot, of course, is that it makes badge engineering distressingly apparent: when you have two or three (GM has had as many as five) variations on the same theme, people tend to snicker, especially if there's an obvious attempt to differentiate by price. This is, I'm pretty sure, why you tend not to find Lexuses at Toyota stores. On the other hand, there's not much overlap between Acura and Honda, or lately between Infiniti and Nissan.

Posted at 7:55 PM to Driver's Seat

Here in metro Atlanta, the whole number of dealers may be in decline, but very few locations that I know of, have been closed without some larger one opening to replace it.

We have dealers here that may have eight to ten locations scattered around, and often with different competing brands at different locations.

In Newnan, the erstwhile Chevy dealer (who had multiple lots in other towns) was bought out by the other-GM-brands dealer across the street (who already had multiple lots in other towns). I don't think either lot has suffered for the consolidation.

Posted by: McGehee at 4:17 PM on 10 April 2007

Oh, and the outfit that had its Chevy lot bought up still has its other lots; Newnan just apparently turned out to be too close to Atlanta for him.

Posted by: McGehee at 4:18 PM on 10 April 2007