Auto Dealer Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the Auto Dealer industry


Special Topics

Infrastructure Investment for EVs, Data Privacy, and Dealership Buy-Back Programs

2023 NADC Conference Update

The recent NADC conference unveiled many developments that are shaking up the auto dealer industry. Unpacking the evolving shift towards electric vehicles (EVs), we heard about infrastructure investments and the legal labyrinth posed by new EV-specific brands. As technology in vehicles leaps forward, we also learned the challenges of data privacy and consumer data protection laws. And for those dealers hesitant about the EV transition, dealership buyback programs may be on the table. These issues, among others, are steering the future course of the auto industry, demanding a watchful eye. Discover how these evolving landscapes could impact you.

Electric Vehicles

EV Potpourri

Discussing Levels of Charging to OEM Requirements of Dealers

There are exciting developments in the electric vehicle (EV) market, where sales momentum continues to build as EVs make up an increasing share of new light-duty vehicle sales. Learn about the different charging levels, the various requirements automakers have for their dealers, and the expanding presence of charging stations at various retailers and restaurants. As major auto manufacturers are investing in and adapting to the EV revolution, sustainable transportation appears to be the way forward in this rapidly growing industry.

Valuation Issues

Plan for the Unexpected

Succession Planning for Auto Dealers

The 2023 NCAA College Basketball Tournament began last week. Many of us have been checking our brackets obsessively.  There’s a reason it’s called March Madness.  Who would have predicted that Fairleigh Dickinson would upset Purdue or that Princeton would upset Arizona and advance to the Sweet 16? The tournament and its bracket challenges are full of possibilities but are also a source of frustration, given the unexpected twists and turns. In certain ways, succession planning for auto dealers mirrors the journey through the tournament. Just as the thought of a #16 seed beating a #1 seed wasn’t on our radars before 2018 (when #16 University of Maryland-Baltimore County beat #1 Virginia 74-54 on March 16, 2018), thoughts of a global pandemic or an inventory crisis caused by a microchip shortage weren’t expected either. The lesson to be learned: Plan for the unexpected.

In this post, we discuss some of the key factors to be considered in the succession planning process and why they are critical. 

Used Vehicles Valuation Issues

2022 Auto Dealer Industry Metrics Review

Has Profitability Peaked?

As we turn the calendar to March, 2022 is in the rearview mirror, and year-end statistics for the auto industry have been released. How did the industry perform, and what do the metrics tell us about the direction of the industry in 2023? In this post, we discuss the key metrics we track for the industry: new vehicle profitability, the supply of new vehicles, average trade-in equity values of used vehicles, the used-to-new vehicle retail unit sales ratio, fleet sales, and vehicle miles traveled. 

Supply Chain

Floorplan Interest Income Fading

Part 1: Rising Interest Rates and Increasing Inventories Are Anticipated to Remove the Unlikely Profit Center

Compared to last year, interest rates have significantly increased since the Federal Reserve began raising rates in March 2022. Inventories have also improved as the industry works through its supply chain issues. These shifts in economic trends are expected to have an impact on many aspects of auto dealer operations. In this week’s post, we talk about floorplan interest income and pose some important questions: What is floorplan interest expense, and what are floorplan credits? How have floorplan credits turned into an unlikely profit center for dealers? Can we expect this trend to continue amid changing conditions?

Electric Vehicles SAAR Used Vehicles

Auto Industry Trends to Monitor in 2023

An Automotive Potpourri

January is a month to review statistics from the prior year and to make predictions for the new year. The automobile industry is no different. In this poset, we tackle a potpourri of trends to monitor in 2023, including new and used vehicle prices, electric vehicles, connected cars, and SAAR predictions for 2023.      

‘Twas the Blog Before Christmas…

2022 Mercer Capital Auto Dealer Holiday Poem

It has become a tradition for the Auto Dealer team at Mercer Capital to end the blog year with a “unique” summary of industry events, riffing off Clement Clark Moore’s classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” We hope all of you enjoy the holiday season. We look forward to hearing from you in 2023.

The Top 2022 Blog Posts from Auto Dealer Valuation Insights

Despite existing operational headwinds and new economic headwinds in 2022, auto dealers continued to produce record profits.  As we wind down the year and look towards next year, we look back to see what was popular with you—our loyal readers. Here are some of your favorite posts from 2022.


Auto Brands and the 2022 World Cup

Who Are the Top Ranked Countries?

This week we compare the FIFA rankings of the world’s largest vehicle producing countries. Spoiler alert: there is no correlation. But in our research, we found plenty of interesting nuggets and talking points. We also discuss top vehicle producing nations that did not qualify for the World Cup, nations that did qualify but do not have a large presence in auto production. We also get into brand presence and Blue Sky multiples of these nations’ vehicle brands.

Meet the Team

Harrison Holt

In each “Meet the Team” segment, we highlight a different professional on our Auto Dealer Industry team. This week we highlight Harrison Holt, Financial Analyst. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a bit better.

Valuation Issues

Market Insights on Auto Dealer M&A Activity

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Kevin Nill of Haig Partners to discuss the current state of the M&A market and other timely trends in the auto dealer industry.  Specifically, we discussed some of the movements in Blue Sky multiples for various franchises and interpret the range of multiples that Haig Partners recently published with the release of their Second Quarter 2022 Haig Report.  

Regulatory Update: Amendments to FTC Safeguards Rule

Impacts to Auto Dealerships

NADA estimates that auto dealerships could face up-front costs of up to $294,000 per rooftop to comply with the FTC’s Safeguards Rule. If you are not familiar with the Safeguards Rule, this post discusses it and the amendments that must be complied with by early December 2022. 

Book Review:  The Future of Automotive Retail (Part 2)

Discussions and Predictions of Changes to Auto Dealers in the Next 30 Years

In this week’s blog, we continue our review of the book The Future of Automotive Retail by Steve Greenfield.   It covers the changing trends of consumer behavior and technology that will likely continue to shape the automotive retailing experience for decades to come.  In part one of the series, we discussed the “convenience economy,” including predictions of changes to power sources and vehicle production.

In Part two of this series we discuss vehicle ownership, autonomous vehicles, connected cars, service and repairs, and the proposed future of the auto dealership.

Book Review: The Future of Automotive Retail (Part 1)

Discussions and Predictions of Changes to Auto Dealers in the Next 30 Years

Over the next two blogs, we will review the book The Future of Automotive Retail by Steve Greenfield.  This book discusses changes in trends of consumer behavior and technology that will likely continue to shape the auto dealer retailing experience for decades to come. In part one of this Blog series, we review the discussions and predictions caused by the “convenience economy,” including changes to power sources and vehicle production.

COVID-19 Coverage

Rideshare: Friend or Foe to Auto Dealers and Manufacturers?

In this post, we focus on the impact of Uber and Lyft on the auto industry as a whole, particularly as compared to initial concerns. We address the questions: “How has the rise of rideshare giants affected the auto industry?”, “How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect ridesharing?” and “What can we expect from the rideshare industry going forward?”

Blue Sky Valuation Issues

Powersports: Alternative Growth Opportunity for Auto Dealers

Auto dealers have experienced heightened profitability over the last two years. For dealers with excess cash from continued profits or remaining PPP funds, have you thought about the powersports industry? As one auto dealer client recently recounted to us, “if you have the skills and experience in selling high volumes of automobiles to consumers, then you have the necessary skills to also succeed in the powersports industry.” In this post, we explain what the powersports industry is and how big it is, as well as highlight similarities and differences to the traditional auto dealer industry for those interested in possibly entering this industry.

SAAR Valuation Issues

2022: How Is the Auto Industry Doing and What Does the Future Hold?

Status Quo or Winds of Change?

The first half of 2022 is behind us, and with school about to start, report cards will be here before we know it. In that same light, the auto industry has published its statistics for the first six months. This post reviews predictions by industry analysts (and us) made at the beginning of the year by analyzing several key metrics. Additionally, we discuss threats that arose during the first half of 2022 and their impact on the auto industry for the remainder of the year and perhaps longer. Finally, we offer a few predictions for the second half of 2022.

Meet The Team

David W. R. Harkins, CFA, ABV

In each “Meet the Team” segment, we highlight a different professional on our Auto Dealer Industry team. This week we highlight David Harkins, Senior Financial Analyst. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a bit better.

Electric Vehicles Valuation Issues

State of the Industry From the Tennessee Automotive Association Convention

Musings From Mercer Capital’s Music City Office

Last week we attended the Annual Tri-State Convention for the Automotive Associations of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.  The event provided a great opportunity to discuss trends in the automotive industry with industry participants and dealers from different manufacturers and geographic areas.  In this blog, we discuss some of the trends discussed last week, including a variety of topics that we have covered before in this space. We also incorporate highlights of a presentation from noted industry analyst Glenn Mercer (no affiliation with Mercer Capital) regarding the “Dealership of Tomorrow.”

Litigation Valuation Issues

Case Review: Observations From a Recent Auto Dealer Litigation

The valuation of auto dealerships can be very challenging and complex. This week we discuss a recent Appellate Court decision, released from a case (Thomas A. Buckley v. Grover C. Carlock, Jr. that we were directly involved in back in 2019. The case centered around a shareholder oppression issue involving a minority owner of an “ultra-high-line” auto dealership. Mercer Capital was hired by the Defendant to serve as the expert witness.

Meet The Team

Scott Womack, ASA, MAFF

In each “Meet the Team” segment, we highlight a different professional on our Auto Dealer industry team. This week we highlight Scott Womack, Senior Vice President of Mercer Capital and the leader of the Auto Dealer industry team. The experience and expertise of our professionals allow us to bring a full suite of valuation, transaction advisory, and litigation support services to our clients. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a bit better.

Auto Dealerships

Mercer Capital provides business valuation and financial advisory services to companies throughout the nation in the auto dealer industry.