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Auto Sales Per U.S. Dealer Seen Setting Record in 2012

U.S. auto sales per dealership may climb to a record in 2012 as carmakers keep distribution outlets stable and boost vehicle deliveries at a faster rate than estimated, according to an industry consulting firm.

Annual sales per dealer will increase to an estimated 805 vehicles from a previous estimate of 785, consulting firm Urban Science said today in an e-mailed statement. The Detroit-based company updated its dealer franchise activity report from February to include an annual sales estimate of 14.3 million vehicles. The previous record was 784 per dealer in 2005.

The number of U.S. auto dealerships rose 0.02 percent to 17,770 in the first half of the year, according to the statement.

“Automakers have kept their networks relatively flat, giving existing dealerships the opportunity to take advantage of increased sales volumes,” John Frith, vice president of retail channel solutions at Urban Science, said in the statement. “Dealers are making a profit for the first time in more than three years without having to rely on their service departments to do so.”

The number of U.S. auto dealerships usually falls about 2 percent annually, said Urban Science, which has compiled an annual franchise activity report since 1990.

Urban Science also issued its first report for China today. The world’s largest auto market has 19,890 automotive franchises, the report said. The consulting firm estimates each dealership averages 980 annual vehicle sales, Urban Science said in a statement. The estimate is based on LMC Automotive’s projected annual China sales volume of 19.5 million.

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