The number of dealerships handling a single make of import-badged vehicles climbed to an all-time high last year. It was the fifth consecutive increase in the number of single-line outlets.
The Jan. 1 total was 4,397, according to the annual Automotive News census.
The figure eclipsed the former peak of 4,240 on Jan. 1, 1990. It was also 6.2 percent above the 4,140 counted on Jan. 1, 2000.
Exclusive dealerships are high on the wish list of all executives who direct the fortunes of import-badged vehicles, but wishing doesn't always make it so.
In some instances, volume is simply too low to support a large number of solo outlets.
But as volume grows, the exclusive urge comes to the fore. The prime reasons are showroom space and sales staff attention.
In an exclusive outlet, that brand has 100 percent of the display space, and the new-vehicle sales-people devote 100 percent of their time to that make. That's great for the manufacturer. It may not be so great for the dealer and his salespeople if their make cools off for a year or so.
In the Automotive News tabulation, an exclusive dealership is one that has a showroom and service facilities devoted to a single brand of vehicles.
Mitsubishi was last year's biggest gainer with an extra 67 exclusives. Daewoo was next with 62 newcomers, and Nissan had 39.
Other 20-plus advances were re-corded by Kia, 27; and Volkswagen, 22.
Japanese makes rule the exclusive dealership roost with 3,171 of the 4,307 establishments. That is 72 percent of the total. Germany is next with 12.5 percent.
Toyota is the individual leader with 747 single-line stores, followed by Honda, 727; Nissan, 583; and Mitsubishi, 346. No other import-badged make has as many as 200.
Only nine of the 27 import-badged brands sold in the United States can count 60 percent of their dealerships in the exclusive column. Honda and Lexus lead with 73 percent, followed by Infiniti, Land Rover, Acura, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz.