Dealership results for 2016 likely will show a continued trend of thinner new-vehicle margins, said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly, who's responsible for NADA Data, the association's annual roundup of auto-retail financial statistics.
On the positive side, he said dealership service business is still a reliable profit machine.
"Looking ahead, the trend of continued pressure on new-vehicle margins will remain and the future will be about improving customer service and expanding the service business," Szakaly wrote in response to questions about the 2017 edition of NADA Data, which is due to be published in March or April, based on full-year 2016 results.
The 2016 edition of NADA Data, based on 2015 results, showed the average dealership new-vehicle department, including F&I, rung up net losses in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The numbers bottomed out with an average net loss of nearly $190,000 in 2009, tracking U.S. new light-vehicle sales, which fell to 16.1 million in 2007 from 16.6 million in 2006, then kept right on tumbling to 10.4 million in 2009, according to NADA Data.