With the improvements, Group 1 has begun to recall some of the 4,800 U.S. employees it had furloughed.
Lithia Motors Inc. noted its April results improved over late March, while Sonic Automotive Inc. said it expects a return to pre-COVID-19 sales and service levels this summer.
Asbury Automotive Group, too, said last week that its business improved incrementally on a weekly basis in April. Asbury started the month with declines of 50 percent in sales and 60 percent in service. By the final week of April, sales were running 25 percent below year-ago figures, and service was down 30 percent.
Asbury, which furloughed 2,300 workers, said it purposefully didn't let technicians go and continued to pay them at normal levels despite having less work for them.
While same-store revenue was down 35 percent in April, Asbury CEO David Hult told analysts last week that the company expects May's same-store revenue drop to be at 15 percent.
Penske Automotive plans to recall 500 furloughed U.S. employees this month, mostly in parts and service. The company furloughed about 15,000 people, or 57 percent of its global work force. It also terminated about 500 employees globally, officials told Automotive News last week.
Penske aims to emerge from the crisis a leaner organization, trimming $75 million to $100 million in annual costs.
Roger Penske told Automotive News that savings will come in part from lower floorplan interest, reduced marketing, cuts in demonstration vehicle costs, lower capital expenditures and even possible consolidation of offices.
"We'll be structurally different," Penske said. "I think our employees, some will work from home. We will have technology that we really hadn't had our people trained [on who] are now familiar with it, so we'll be able to reduce the cycle time on the sales process."
AutoNation Inc. reports results Monday, May 11.