Car and truck dealers may be selling everything in sight and collecting bigger profits this year, but their satisfaction with the automakers hasn't grown, a new survey says.

J.D. Power and Associates said that its annual index of dealer attitudes showed no improvement in how dealers feel about car companies.The main reason is too much success, said the Agoura Hills, Calif. marketing firm. Automakers can't build enough hot-selling car and truck models to meet buyer demand.

"If you don't have the product you can't get the volume," said Houston dealer Alan Helfman, who sells Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep and Eagle products.

Automakers have streamlined their operations to respond more quickly when demand increases.

But the new, leaner operations can't build popular models fast enough in a year like this one, with overall vehicle sales up more than 8 percent and light truck sales up nearly 13 percent.

View Comments

Meanwhile, the survey showed that dealers are consolidating and downsizing, which will help them prosper.

Since 1992, the number of franchises held by the average dealer has dropped to 2.49 from 2.77, and the number of separate operations of the average dealer also has declined.

While sales have increased, the number of employees per dealer has dropped, from a high of 71 in 1989 to 58 this year.

The dealer survey was based on questionnaire returns from 4,163 dealer-principal owners.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.