Put Franchised dealers at one end of a distribution continuum. Put indivduals who privately import cars at the other end. The middle is filled with independent distributors, many of whom are listed in our directory on Pages 6-8.
Independents provide an infrastructure for carmakers in new markets. They bring order to chaos. Often, their executives know their customers much better than the automaker does.
The role of independents will change over the next several years. The opening of European borders and the arrival of a single currency will make geography less important to their role. Consolidation is likely.
At the same time, marketing savvy will become more important. The independents will quite likely acquire new power when the European Union removes the special block exemption protection it has given to automotive distribution. It will pay to keep watching them.