Fleet News

Franchised dealer boost

FRANCHISED dealers look set to remain the mainstay of vehicle distribution despite competition from the internet, according to an Institute of the Motor Industry survey. Manufacturers and importers operating in the UK have dealership expansion plans which have seen the number of franchised outlets increase to 6,439 compared with 6,365 in March last year and 6,381 in March 1998.

By the end of this year, the ninth annual IMI dealer development survey showed that 200 new dealerships could open. The most ambitious target was set by Proton, which aims to add 80 dealers with Kia, Mazda, Perodua and Tata all indicating major expansion. Ford, Peugeot, Rover, Renault, Vauxhall and Volkswagen declined to disclose their targets. Citroen, Daewoo, Proton and Renault also said they were planning to increase the number of service-only sites in their networks this year.

IMI chief executive Peter Creasey said: 'The findings could be a much-needed shot in the arm for the retail motor industry.' A separate report from DCS Automotive says that, although the internet will influence 500,000 purchases by 2003, there will always be a showroom because people like to see and test drive new cars.

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