Is the reduction of auto dealerships an inevitable business adjustment?

Posted May 19, 2009, at 9:12 a.m.

General Motors and Chrysler both have announced their plans to eliminate dealerships 1,100 and 789, respectively. Was this move inevitable, and perhaps hastened by a bad economy? Just as Maine towns once had several grocery stores and now typically have one or two, is the reduction in dealerships a move toward efficiency? Will the large “auto malls” that may dominate the market mean a loss of customer service and usher in a different sort of car culture? If the dealership that has been a major anchor business in a small town loses its product, what will happen to it?