Franchised retailer relationships with their car manufacturer partners has reached an all-time low, according to the latest NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey.

The average score dropped 0.5 to 5.6 against the January 2017 survey. Only seven of the 29 brands surveyed saw their scores increase in the latest set of results.

Relationships have been on a downward path for the past four years, despite new car sales increasing for the majority of that time and still performing well in historic terms. The previous low of 6.1, was first reached in January 2016.

Topping the latest Dealer Attitude Survey was Kia overtaking Mercedes which fell to second place – however both saw their scores fall compared with the January results.

The worst performers in the latest NFDA survey were Nissan in last place, Citroen in second last and Jeep third from last. The biggest faller was Subaru with a drop of 2.9.

Following survey falls caused by the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen and sister firms Audi (most improved) and Seat saw a return to form with significant improvements. However Skoda’s score dropped 0.9.

Commenting on the results Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said: “The summer 2017 survey had an encouraging response rate, with considerably increased response return from smaller dealerships, highlighting the importance of the survey for both dealers and manufacturers enabling them to monitor and evaluate the health of their relationship.

“The results of the survey show that external factors might have put a strain on the dealer-manufacturer relationship.”

She added: “In a period of uncertainty where a coordinated and combined approach is needed to deal with a number of important issues currently facing the industry, it is vital that manufacturers and dealers continue to work together to safeguard the interests of the automotive sector.”