The 100 largest dealership groups sold about one of every six new vehicles bought in the United States last year. That was up from one in seven in 2000.
The top 100 U.S. groups sold 3.4 percent more new vehicles at retail in 2004 than in 2003, according to an annual Automotive News compilation.
Among the 10 biggest groups, publicly traded Group 1 Automotive Inc. and privately held Staluppi Auto Group showed the largest annual percentage growth in both retail new-vehicle sales and group revenue.
Executives of both companies attributed much of that growth to acquisitions.
Staluppi Auto, of Riviera Beach, Fla., moved up from No. 10 to No. 9 on the list, which is based on its new-vehicle retail sales in 2004. Those unit sales increased 28.3 percent over 2003.
Last year Staluppi Auto bought six import-brand stores. They included two Honda dealerships, two Infiniti dealerships and a Lexus store in New York and a Nissan dealership in Las Vegas, Staluppi says. Staluppi Auto now owns 19 dealerships.
"We started pulling for more new-car gross" profit, says John Staluppi, owner of the dealership group.
"Naturally, adding two new high lines brought a lot more in."
Gross profit per vehicle at Staluppi Auto stores last year ranged from $1,900 to $3,800, Staluppi says. That's about $300 more per vehicle than in 2003, he estimates.
Staluppi Auto's used-vehicle retail sales rose by 19.1 percent last year over 2003. That was the largest percentage increase among the 10 largest dealership groups.
Staluppi Auto placed a new emphasis on selling used vehicles in 2004, Staluppi says. In Las Vegas and New York, where, he says, "property is very tight," dealerships moved some new vehicles to storage areas to make display room for used vehicles, he says.