We've heard tales of global automakers adding two dealerships a week in China and wishing they could go even faster. So how fast is the retail network being established in the world's largest car market?
Crazy fast, at least outside of China's largest population centers.
According to Urban Science, the dealership franchise count in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities soared 131 percent in 2012. China has about 60 Tier 2 cities with populations of around 3 million and another 250 or so with more than 1 million residents.
Overall, the number of franchises in China rose 17 percent to 21,139 at the end of the year -- about 10,000 less than in the United States. And they are still being added in Tier 1 cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where franchise growth was up almost 10 percent last year.
"The number of franchises will continue to expand in the near future, but we project that within the next 10 years, the count in China will begin to decline," said Hamilton Gayden, a China-based consultant for Urban Science.
Last year the average Chinese franchise had sales of 901 units, down from 990 units in 2011.
The average sales per franchise in the United States last year was 465 units.