About half of all dealers in the survey said they expect higher new-vehicle unit sales and higher net profits this year than they made last year. But those results mask deep differences in outlook between Big 3 and Japan 3 dealers.
Two-fifths of the 300-plus General Motors dealers who responded said they expect lower profits in 2005. About a third predicted lower new-vehicle sales.
Responses were comparable among the nearly 300 dealers in the survey who sell Ford Motor Co. brands.
Bob Maguire, a Chevrolet dealer in Bordentown, N.J., and former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, says he expects to boost profits and new-vehicle sales this year.
But he told Automotive News: GM and Ford are going to lose good-quality dealers because they cant make a living anymore.
Adds Wayne Culver, a Ford dealer in Lillington, N.C.: 2005 was a horrible year because of all the employee plans and lost market share. Lord willing, it can only go up from there.
The roughly 160 Chrysler group dealers in the survey were a bit less pessimistic about sales; about a fourth expect lower new-vehicle sales this year. But almost half said they expect lower profits in 2005.
At the same time, more than four-fifths of the 200 Toyota, Honda and Nissan dealers who took part in the survey said they expect higher sales this year. Nearly three-fourths anticipate higher profits.