BMW stole Jaguar's lead in the latest biannual RMI Dealer Attitude Survey, but Chrysler took a hammering from its Jeep dealers.
Judged on the value of the franchise to their dealers and scored out of 10, BMW achieved 9.4, a rise from 9 in summer 2000, and Jaguar has slipped from 9.5 to 9.1.
Toyota was third with 8.7 (June 2000: 8.8) and Lexus fourth with 8.5 (7.4).
Rover is going from strength to strength with a score of 6.3 (4.8). Its dealers are the most confident of the marque's profit potential.
However, Jeep dealers criticise Chrysler, saying it wields unnecessary control over its dealers and has a poor commitment to marketing.
Mercedes-Benz dealers also express their anxiety about the level of control exerted by DaimlerChrysler and believe this level will increase in the coming year.
Citroen dealers, however, expressed the greatest concern over future manufacturer control and believe more strongly than in the preceding 14 surveys that the control will increase.
The RMI's franchised dealer director Alan Pulham said: “Since the summer 2000 survey, Mercedes and Jeep dealers have become increasingly negative about their manufacturer's effectiveness in product advertising. What is disturbing is that an even smaller number than six months ago believe the senior management of Chrysler takes the dealers' views and opinions into account before making decisions.
The survey shows Chrysler Jeep and Mercedes dealers are even more cynical about the value of holding their franchise, says the RMI. The scores returned by both have fallen to 6.0 (June 2000: 6.8) and 4.4 (6.8) respectively.
But Mr Pulham said: “On the positive side, Rover dealers who faced potential ruin a year ago are increasingly positive about the value of holding their franchise.
“They also report greater confidence in the profit potential and future profit potential of their businesses and increased satisfaction with the carmaker's product advertising. Rover is also one of only two franchises that believe manufacturer control over the coming years will not increase.”