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The U.S. saw the number of dealerships fall slightly in 2021 as average throughput, or new-vehicle sales per franchise, increased, according to Automotive News' annual dealership census.

The annual dealership census found new vehicles sold per franchise increased 3.6% to 466 on average in 2021.

The census also ranks 41 brands for throughput as a measurement of a dealership network's health. Throughput increased in 2021 as U.S. light-vehicle sales, excluding Tesla, rose 2.5% to nearly 14.75 million vehicles, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center.

However, the overall dealership count fell for the second-straight year by a margin of 0.3%. Dealerships numbered 18,211 stores as of Jan. 1. New-vehicle franchises dropped by 1.3% to 31,410.

Toyota held the top ranking, with its average throughput jumping 10% to 1,638 vehicles sold per franchise. Lexus took the No. 2 spot as its throughput rose 11% to 1,253 vehicles. Honda moved from No. 2 to No. 3 as its throughput increased 7.9% to 1,229 vehicles.

BMW jumped two spots to grab the No. 4 spot. Its throughput jumped 21%. Subaru moved to No. 5, as its throughput average fell 4.8%. Kia moved up one spot to No. 6; Hyundai, up two spots to No. 7; Mercedes-Benz, fell three spots to No. 8; Nissan, dropped one to No. 9; and Audi, up one to No. 10. Ford, last year's No. 10, fell to No. 12.

General Motors led the drop in dealerships with a decline of 30 stores. Cadillac lost 313 franchises — more than a third of its count but the brand's exclusives rose by two. Exclusives jumped by 51 for Chevrolet and by six for GMC.

Ford Motor Co. dropped 14 stores in 2021 and had fewer franchises for Lincoln, down 8.1% to 685. Lincoln exclusives fell by six to 133 as of Jan. 1.  

Automotive News reported a spokeswoman noted Lincoln's overall franchise count fell further in 2022, to about 650 as of mid March.

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today

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