DETROIT, August 10, 2023 – Urban Science® today announced highlights from its 2023 midyear Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), which shows continued stability for the U.S. automotive retail network through the first six months of 2023, and a 13% rise in new-vehicle sales – primarily driven by non-retail sales and electric vehicle (EV*) adoption. As of July 1, 2023, there were 23 more dealerships (rooftops) in the U.S. compared to the same date in 2022 (18,280 this year compared to 18,257 last year); the number of franchises – brands a dealership sells – decreased by 710 (from 31,554 last year to 30,844) during the same period.
Dealership throughput – the number of vehicles a dealership sells – is projected to rise to 842 in 2023 (from 759 in 2022), which would be the highest throughput level the U.S. automotive retail network has seen since 2019, prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Vast majority of CBSAs remain stable
According to the Urban Science midyear FAR, a record-high 99% of core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) in the U.S. had virtually no net change (+/- one store) in dealerships. 92% of CBSAs had no actual net change in dealerships; 3% of CBSAs (net) lost at least one store and 5% (net) gained at least one store. The most significant state-level changes were net increases in California (+13) and Tennessee (+7) and net decreases in New York (-5) and Illinois (-3).
“With a stable dealership count and unit sales continuing to climb as the semiconductor chip and inventory shortages ease, the automotive retail network in the U.S. is well-positioned to drive profitability through what we expect to be the highest throughput levels we’ve seen since before the pandemic (in 2019),” said Mitch Phillips, director, global data and analytics, Urban Science. “The record setting profits dealers enjoyed during the chip shortage through convenience fees and other short-term measures will be harder to achieve as additional inventory and competition arrive at stores nationwide. Now more than ever, it’s critical OEMs inform their network planning strategies with science – not speculation – to ensure their footprints and dealership infrastructures are built to meet consumer needs now and in the future as electrification continues and consumer expectations shift at an unprecedented pace.”
EV sales expected to exceed 1 million units, drive record market share; non-retail sales continue to lead the way.
Urban Science data shows as of July 1, 2023, 664,104 EV units were sold in the U.S. – a 56% increase over the same timeframe in 2022. Based on current data, the company projects this sales trend to continue throughout the remainder of the year and for the industry to achieve EV sales in excess of 1.3 million units in 2023. Considering a sales forecast of 15.4 million units in the U.S. this year, 1.3 million EV unit sales would drive the EV market share in the country from 7% after the first six months of 2022 to 9% during the same time period this year – a 29% overall increase.
State-level EV sales insights
According to Urban Science, EVs accounted for more than 10% of vehicles sold in nine of 50 states during the first six months of 2023. The following five states accounted for 57% of all EV sales nationwide during the same time period.
Top five states by 2023 EV sales volume (as of July 1, 2023)
2. New Jersey
5. New York
Additional EV considerations
Urban Science’s recently released Dealership Transformation Index – fueled by research conducted alongside The Harris Poll – shares research and insights related to the EV future, plus considerations to help OEMs and dealers meet growing demand to drive short- and long-term efficiency and profitability across the U.S. automotive retail network.
*EVs are defined as plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles within the Urban Science FAR.
About Urban Science
Urban Science is a leading automotive consultancy and technology firm that serves automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers, and the advertising technology companies that support them, around the world. Headquartered in Detroit and operating in 20 office locations globally, Urban Science taps the power of its science – and its unrivaled data, solution offerings and industry expertise – to create clarity and business certainty for clients in even the most chaotic market conditions. Visit UrbanScience.com for more information about how Urban Science helps automotive manufacturers and dealers gain competitive edges by taking the guesswork out of critical business decisions, and in turn drives improved efficiency and profitability industrywide.
About the Urban Science Automotive Franchise Activity Report
Urban Science maintains a list of current new-vehicle dealership and franchise information for all car and light truck brands in the United States. Compiled on a monthly basis, the census is the most reliable source of dealership statistics. The data comes from a variety of sources, including feeds from automotive manufacturers as well as phone and field verification. Urban Science has been collecting this information since 1990 and compiles an annual analysis for the previous year in its Automotive Franchise Activity Report.