And all their children were above average

DETROIT -- I didn’t realize things were that good.

According to a survey of 71 auto dealers, 94.2 percent of all new-car dealers in the United States increased their market share in 2010.


Those other 6 percent must have had a really, really crummy year, huh?

Set aside the fact that 71 responses is hardly a scientific sample. I guess I’m just a hopelessly cynical journalist, because even with some dealerships going out of business in 2009-10, it’s hard for me to grasp that everybody gained share.

I mean, a dealer whose sales went up 10 percent lost share, since the total market is up 11 percent through November. And are you telling me that all of Toyota’s dealers nationwide fit into the woeful 6 percent?

And I couldn’t help but notice that later in the release, the company reports that 54.7 percent of dealers surveyed plan to increase their purchase of third-party leads in 2011. Why, that just happens to be the business of the company behind the survey! Do you hear that, Wall Street? Their business is about to take off!

The source of this fascinating survey: AutoUSA, a unit of AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest auto dealer group.

But maybe, just maybe, my skepticism is overdone. That 94.7 percent may accurately reflect the responses to the survey. After all, my boss is fond of saying that if Automotive News ever runs a Page 1 banner headline that reads, “World to end next week,” the subhead will proclaim: “Dealers optimistic.”