Who really benefits?

Lexus recently eased the limit on the number of its stores a single dealership group can own.

The methods vary, but automakers -- especially smaller ones -- commonly try to restrict dealership groups' store ownership in the United States.

The typical justification is that manufacturers don't want one or two dealership groups controlling enough volume to demand special treatment.

But having such restrictive policies would be more credible if the manufacturers didn't routinely amend them or grant exceptions.

And a smaller pool of eligible buyers cuts the resale value of an existing store. In a consolidating market, that hampers manufacturers trying to recruit capable and well-financed candidates to own their dealerships.

Does limiting dealership concentration actually benefit an automaker's vehicle buyers?

It's time for manufacturers to square their policies on arbitrarily limiting dealership ownership with what's best for their brands and their customers.