Import-brand dealerships outpaced their domestic-brand rivals in finance and insurance income as a percentage of total new-vehicle department revenue, a National Automobile Dealers Association report found.
And the gap is widening.
At import dealerships, average F&I income as a percentage of new-vehicle department revenue rose to 3.0 percent in 2016 from 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2.8 percent in 2014.
In contrast, at domestic-brand dealerships, the figure eased to 2.6 percent from 2.7 percent in both 2015 and 2014.
NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly said he believes the disparity is most likely a function of the higher transaction prices at domestic-brand dealerships. The average new-vehicle price at domestic dealerships last year was $36,920, vs. $32,443 at import stores.
The popularity of light trucks, for example, may be leading consumers to take record numbers of F&I products but at a lower price, he said. F&I penetration rates rose for new-vehicle sales at both import and domestic dealerships.
A similar disparity was seen in used-vehicle departments.
Average F&I income as a percentage of used-vehicle department revenue stood at 3.4 percent at both domestic- and import-brand dealerships in 2014.
But since then, the figure edged up at domestic stores to 3.5 percent in 2015 and 3.6 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, import stores saw their numbers step up to 3.6 percent in 2015 and 3.8 percent in 2016.