For the first time in recent memory, Ford has more U.S. dealerships than Chevrolet. According to Urban Science, an auto industry-focused analytics firm specializing in retail and consumer data, Ford ended last year with just 47 more dealers than Chevrolet, marking the first time in years the Blue Oval has overtaken its crosstown rivals in dealer count.

Urban Science said that Ford ended 2010 with 3,131 dealers, down 62 from the prior year. Meanwhile, Chevrolet ended the year with 3,084 dealers, losing a whopping 372 retailers compared to 2009. Many Chevrolet dealerships were terminated following General Motors’ chapter 11 bankruptcy, giving Ford the opportunity to overtake G.M.’s largest brand.

Ford also holds a slight lead over Chevrolet on the sales front. Last year, the Ford division sold just over 1.7 million vehicles, while Chevrolet couldn’t quite crack 1.6 million. However, Chevrolet is storming back following G.M.’s return from bankruptcy. In January, Chevrolet reclaimed the title of America’s top selling brand, unloading 125,389 cars and outpacing Ford by around 4,000 units.

Despite Ford’s sales lead against Chevrolet, comparing Ford Motor Company – parent company of the Ford and Lincoln brands, as well as the now-defunct Mercury brand – and General Motors yields different results. Compared to G.M.’s 5,000-plus retailers and annual sales of around 2.2 million units, Ford Motor has around 4,000 dealerships and yearly sales of around 1.9 million.

Interestingly, many rivals with far fewer dealerships sell cars in similar numbers. Toyota trailed Chevrolet in January sales by around 20 percent, but managed to do so with around 1,600 dealers – nearly half of Chevrolet’s total. On average, each Toyota dealership sells around 1,600 vehicles annually, or about three times as many as the typical Ford or Chevrolet dealer.

Although Ford and General Motors are cutting dealerships following last year’s economic slowdown, several brands are adding dealerships, intent on capturing sales in new markets as the economy rebounds. Urban Science says that over the last year, Hyundai, Kia, Mini, Subaru, and Volkswagen have added the most U.S. dealerships.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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