Auto Dealership Count, Throughput Dip Slightly While EV, Non-Retail Sales Rise

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Urban Science on Feb. 21 announced highlights from its 2022 year-end Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), which showed continued stability for the U.S. automotive retail network despite the challenges the industry faced regarding ongoing inventory shortages and relatively high car-loan interest rates last year.

As of Jan. 1, 2023, there were 27 more dealerships---rooftops---in the U.S. compared to the same date in 2022 (18,257 compared to 18,230 last year); the number of franchises---brands a dealership sells---decreased slightly from 31,646 to 31,554 during the same period.

A record-high 97% of core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) in the U.S. had virtually no net change (+/- one store) in dealerships. 88% of CBSAs had no actual net change in dealerships; 5% of CBSAs (net) lost at least one store and 7% (net) gained at least one store.

The most significant state-level changes were net increases in California (+25) and Texas (+9) and net decreases in Michigan (-9), and Indiana (-7).

Dealership throughput---the number of vehicles a dealership sells---fell from 826 units to 759 units year over year, a level similar to those in 2011 and 2012 (719 and 812 units, respectively). In an environment with a stable dealership count, throughput is driven primarily by sales volume; considering a sales forecast of 15 million unit sales in 2023, Urban Science projects throughput will rise to around 818 units per store this year barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Non-Retail and EV Sales Rise Despite Overall Sales Decline

While overall retail sales declined in 2022, the industry saw upticks in two key areas:

  • Non-retail sales rose by 12% year over year; this increase was primarily driven by fleet sales.
  • EV sales increased 46% compared to 2021. The share of EV sales also increased from 5% of all U.S. new-vehicle sales in 2021 to 7% in 2022---a 40% increase year over year.

State-Level EV Sales Insights

According to Urban Science, six states accounted for more than 10% of all EV sales in 2022, and two of these states---Texas and New Jersey---experienced EV sales growth of more than 60% year over year.

Top five states by 2022 EV sales volume:

1. California---41% growth year over year
2. Florida---51% growth year over year
3. Texas---64% growth year over year
4. New York---17% growth year over year
5. New Jersey---60% growth year over year

"Despite the overall decrease in sales in the U.S. in 2022, there are reasons for optimism as non-retail and EV sales continue to climb," said Mitch Phillips, director, global data and analytics, Urban Science. "It's clear the EV future is here, and we're seeing exponential sales growth---and growth potential---in EV adoption in locations that have not been considered hotbeds in the past. Leading automotive manufacturers continue to inform their high-stakes EV network and infrastructure planning decisions with near-real time industry sales data and an EV forecasting approach rooted in science, not speculation, to ensure they're prepared to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences and behavior now and in the future."

Source: Urban Science

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