For the first time, a car-truck brand topped 1,000 in sales per dealership.
Toyota's dealers sold an average of 1,008 cars and light trucks per outlet in 1998, making Toyota not only the first car-truck seller to break 1,000 but only the third brand to hit that mark in the 44 years Automotive News has compiled such figures.
Hyundai dealers were the first brand to top 1,000, delivering 1,431 cars per outlet in 1986.
The second to break 1,000 was Saturn, which sold an average of 1,072 cars per dealership in 1992. Saturn led in sales per dealership in 1992-95. Toyota dethroned Saturn in 1996 and has stayed on top.
Sales per dealership measure the relative value of a franchise by showing the relationship between sales and the number of dealerships making those sales. They also are a barometer of whether a franchise has too many or not enough dealers. The averages do not indicate actual sales. For instance, first-place Toyota sold 1.2 million new vehicles in 1998; fourth-place Ford Division sold almost 3.3 million new vehicles last year.
For the entire industry last year, sales per dealership totaled 703, up 3.7 percent from 678 in 1997. It is another indication of the industry trend toward fewer but larger dealerships.
HONDA IS TOPS IN CARS
Honda was second in the overall standings as its dealers each delivered an average of 903 vehicles.
The largest single gain was posted by Lexus, whose dealers delivered 888 cars and light-trucks per outlet in 1998, up 332 from 1997.
Ford Division slipped a notch, from third place in 1997 to fourth place in 1998. Its dealers sold 802 cars and light trucks per outlet in 1998, up 32 units over 1997.
Fifth-place Saturn continued its downward spiral. Saturn dealers delivered 594 cars per outlet in 1998, 72 fewer than 666 in 1997.
Chevrolet dealers sold 560 cars and light trucks per outlet in 1998, 18 more than the 542 per outlet they sold in 1997.
Ford Division continued to widen its lead over Chevrolet. Ford dealers sold 242 vehicles per outlet more than Chevrolet in 1998 and 228 more in 1997.
Of the 37 makes of cars and light trucks surveyed, 25 increased their sales-per-outlet averages in 1998, and 12 declined.
Sales-per-outlet results of the U.S.-badged brands of DaimlerChrysler were mixed in 1998. Chrysler dealers averaged 104, up 14, and Dodge dealers averaged 491, up 69. Jeep dealers averaged 178, down 20, and Plymouth dealers averaged 100, down seven. Eagle, which was dropped at the end of the 1998 model year, averaged one vehicle per dealership, down six.
GM: UP, DOWN
Among GM's brands, Cadillac was up five, averaging 123 vehicles per outlet; Oldsmobile was up 11, averaging 116 vehicles per outlet; and GMC was up two, averaging 199.
Pontiac and Buick had double-digit declines in per-outlet deliveries. Pontiac averaged 189, down 24; and Buick averaged 142, down 13.
Nine of the top 10 makes in 1998 car-truck sales per dealership were the same as in 1997, although several changed positions. Acura, which was 10th in 1997, slipped to 11th in 1998, even though its dealers averaged 15 more sales in 1998.
Mercedes moved up from 11th in 1997 to 7th in 1998. After Lexus, Mercedes was the largest gainer. Its dealers sold an average of 537 cars and trucks per outlet in 1998, up 160.
Also showing a triple-digit increase was Volkswagen, whose dealers sold 365 vehicles per outlet in 1998, up 134 over 1997.
MORE TRUCKS THAN CARS
Ford Division, Chevrolet, Dodge and Suzuki sold more pickups, vans and sport-utilities than cars in 1998.
The leader in light-truck sales per outlet was Ford Division at 541. Toyota and Dodge tied for second at 368 each, followed by Chevrolet at 357.
Two of the four truck-only makes showed sales per outlet gains in 1998. GMC sold 199, up two; and Isuzu sold 184, up 22. Land Rover sold 185 units per outlet, down 33; and Jeep sold 178, down 20.