While the industry has seen ownership gains among Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans, African Americans have had a tougher time gaining momentum since the recession, NAMAD President Damon Lester said.
Since 2010, there have been net gains of 166 rooftops for Hispanics, 58 for Asians and 23 for Native Americans, while African American ownership has been stagnant at 269.
Last year, the Asian-owned count jumped by 17 stores, while Hispanics had a net gain of seven and Native American-owned dealerships increased by five. The number of African American-owned stores declined by one.
"All the other ethnic groups had increases, except for African American ones, and that still is the challenge that we've been addressing with all of the OEMs," Lester said. "What is the plan to increase the African American dealer count? And not to the standpoint of trying to take stores from others, but to look at that from a data standpoint. That is an issue when you see even in a 17-million plus SAAR, you are still seeing that category in a decline."
Lester commended the work Ford, GM, Toyota and Honda have done over the years to appoint minority candidates. Lester said he wants all automakers to commit to diversity.
"It doesn't mean it has to be a quota, but a commitment gives us something that we can hold everyone accountable [with], that is measurable," Lester said. "If they have a plan that's measurable, then it gives everyone something to look forward to."
GM said it's committed to adding more minority dealers in the coming years and helping them succeed.
"There is strength in diversity whether you're a 'maker' or a 'seller,' " Carlos Latour, GM's director of dealer diversity relations, said in a statement, "but it's especially true when your success depends on making a direct connection with customers and local communities."