Automotive News' Annual Ranking of the Largest U.S. Dealership Groups

First Up 04/08/21

Automotive News' Annual Ranking of the Largest U.S. Dealership Groups

Mark McLarty had just closed a major acquisition deal with Asbury Automotive Group and was crossing the Mississippi River on his way home last March when news came that Arkansas had its first confirmed case of COVID-19. "It's turned out to be a tremendous transaction for us," McLarty said. The group has been able to "grow the stores substantially since we bought them a year ago now." Other dealers have similar stories: Acquisitions in the works before the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in many cases moved forward, and it has paid off. And more deals occurred as the auto retail sector swiftly recovered in mid-2020. The consolidation effect is clear in an analysis of Automotive News' annual list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. Those top groups in 2020 represented bigger shares of both the U.S. dealership count and of industry new light-vehicle sales. That continued consolidation pattern stretches back to at least 2010. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Lexus, BMW Hot on Mercedes' Heels in Luxury Sales Race

In a tightening horse race, Mercedes-Benz returned to the front in luxury segment sales for the first quarter, powered by strong demand for its luxury crossovers, reports Automotive News. But its lead has narrowed from a year earlier. In the first quarter of 2020, Mercedes was in first place with a comfortable 11,400-vehicle distance from the segment's third-place challenger, Lexus. But for the first quarter of 2021, Lexus was within 4,003 sales of Mercedes. And BMW, now No. 3 in the race, was just 2,820 vehicles behind Lexus. And if last year was any indicator, 2021 could be another dramatic race. Despite that roomy first-quarter position a year ago, Mercedes ended 2020 in third place behind BMW and Lexus. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Toyota Unveils New Models in Advanced Driver-Assist Technology Push

Toyota Motor Corp unveiled on Thursday new models of Lexus and Mirai in Japan, equipped with advanced driver assistance, as competition heats up to develop more self-driving and connected cars, reports Reuters. Toyota’s latest launch comes as automakers, electric car startups, and tech giants invest heavily in so-called active safety features. The Japanese carmaker’s new driving assist technology, or Advanced Drive, features a level 2 autonomous system that helps driving, such as limiting the car in its lane, maintaining the distance from other vehicles and changing lanes under the driver’s supervision on expressways or other motor-vehicle only roads. The luxury sedan Lexus LS will be on sale from Thursday, costing between about 16.3 million yen ($148,627.70) and 17.9 million yen, while the second-generation Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car will be offered on April 12 at between 8.4 million and 8.6 million yen. Read more here (Source: Reuters). 

How Toyota Steered Clear of the Chip Shortage Mess

When the Tohoku earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck Japan’s northeastern coastline in March 2011, killing more than 15,000 people, Toyota Motor Corp. spent half a year struggling to get back on its feet, reports Bloomberg. One of the biggest hurdles: Tokyo-based Renesas Electronics Corp., a major producer of chips for the automotive industry, saw its main plant knocked offline for three months after the tsunami, sparking a supply squeeze that rippled through the industry. As Toyota scrambled to repair its facilities and procure missing parts, it also pored over its supply chain to identify the most at-risk items in the hope of preventing a similar disruption in the future. The automaker came up with a list of about 1,500 parts it deemed necessary to secure alternatives for or to stockpile. The company also put in place an intricate system to monitor the vast network of suppliers that produce those items—and the smaller companies those suppliers buy materials from—to develop an early-warning system for shortages. Read more here (Source: Bloomberg). 

"Zoom Zombies" Are the Driving Dead

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have been working from home and spending hours a day in video meetings you might notice it can become difficult pulling your thoughts back together at the end of the day. And if you then have to climb behind the wheel that could prove deadly, reports The Detroit Bureau. A new study raises concerns about “Zoom Zombies,” motorists who can’t fully focus on the road ahead after a day of videoconferencing. This may be one of the reasons why in 2020 U.S. highway deaths posted their biggest year-over-year increase in nearly a century. “COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we interact with our vehicles,” said David Timm, founder and CEO of Root Insurance, which raised concerns about Zoom Zombies in its annual Distracted Driving Awareness Survey. “As many abruptly shifted to a virtual environment, Americans’ reliance on technology dramatically increased along with their screen time, causing a majority of drivers to carry this distracted behavior into their vehicles.” Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

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