The effects of the surge in acquisition deals made in 2021 were seen across the list and led to the biggest changes in the top 10 in years.
Longtime No. 2 Penske Automotive Group fell one spot, as Lithia Motors Inc. continued its acquisition-fueled charge up the list, taking the runner-up spot.
And while AutoNation Inc. remained No. 1, its lead on Lithia is small. AutoNation retailed 262,403 new vehicles last year, up 5.1 percent, while Lithia retailed 260,738 new vehicles, up 52 percent. Lithia in April last year purchased the 34-store Suburban Collection, No. 21 based on 2020 sales, and made numerous other acquisitions in 2021.
Group 1 Automotive Inc., which in November acquired Prime Automotive Group, No. 18 in the 2020 ranking, remained at No. 4.
Asbury Automotive Group Inc. took the No. 5 slot, bumping Hendrick Automotive Group to No. 6. Asbury retailed 109,910 new vehicles in 2021, up 15 percent. Hendrick retailed 103,949 new vehicles in 2021, up 1.2 percent.
Asbury closed 2021 with its $3.2 billion acquisition of Larry H. Miller Dealerships in December, adding 54 franchised dealerships. That, plus other acquisitions, gave Asbury 162 dealerships to end the year compared with 91 at the end of 2020. Larry H. Miller ranked No. 8 on last year’s list with 2020 retail sales of 61,097 new vehicles.
To round out the top 10, Sonic Automotive Group Inc., which acquired last year’s No. 42 RFJ Auto Partners Inc., stayed at No. 7, ahead of Morgan Automotive. Ken Garff Automotive Group stayed at No. 9, and David Wilson Automotive Group stayed at No. 10.
The dealership groups in the top 10 collectively sold 1,403,893 new vehicles, including fleet vehicles, or 9.3 percent of the U.S. light-vehicle market, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center, which compiles the list. Sales from the companies in the top 10 made up 38 percent of the top 150’s total new-vehicle sales.
The 150 companies on the list collectively retailed 3,466,636 new vehicles, an increase of 8.3 percent vs. 2020. Their combined retail and fleet sales were 3,652,826 new vehicles, or 24.3 percent of the industry’s total new light-vehicle sales of 15,060,287 in 2021.