New dealership opportunities still exist

The retail side of the business has been grim the past couple of years, with hundreds of dealerships failing or being dumped by their manufacturers. But there are still opportunities for entrepreneurs to sign on as vehicle retailers or add to their holdings.

“It's not all Chrysler and General Motors shutting down dealers,” says John Frith, vice president of retail channel solutions for Urban Science. “Some brands are adding.”

Now those additions are limited. But they are out there. Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia and Mini are some of the brands that have net increases in their dealership counts so far this year, Urban Science reports. The Detroit-based retail consultant advises the manufacturers.

Through June, Hyundai and Kia were up 27 stores. Volkswagen, including Audi, was up six. BMW Group's Mini brand had added 10.

Still, for the near future, the overall number of dealerships in the United States will continue to drop. Over time, Urban Science experts say, the U.S. dealership count could level out or even increase if new import brands from China and India come into the market and do well.

But don't expect the domestic brands to add back -- not even if the industry returns to a booming sales pace of 17 million vehicles annually from its current levels around 11.6 million.