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Car Dealers – 2023 and the Future

  • 3 min read

The shifting landscape
The car industry’s trajectory has seen significant shifts, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. While 2018 and 2019 showcased a robust market with ample inventory and attractive deals, the subsequent years brought about unprecedented challenges. Supply chain disruptions and production halts resulted in empty lots and soaring prices for used cars.

The Current Scenario: Limited Inventory and Rising Prices
As of 2022, the situation has yet to fully recover. While some inventory is gradually returning, it is far from the levels seen in 2019. Manufacturers are grappling with the decision of whether to resume full-scale production. However, a critical issue looms over the horizon: the dwindling demand due to escalating prices. The average new car now commands a hefty $46,000, coupled with interest rates as high as seven percent.

The Demand Dilemma: The Price of Ownership
The surge in prices has led to what experts term “demand destruction.” With monthly payments reaching a staggering $1,000 for a five-year term, potential buyers are reconsidering their options. The car industry, once plagued by supply-side issues, is now facing a demand-side crisis. Manufacturers can build vehicles, but the question is, who will be willing to purchase them at such steep prices?

Future Considerations: Balancing Act for Manufacturers
Manufacturers, now able to resume production, are confronted with a dilemma. On one hand, there is the consideration of investing in traditional gasoline vehicles. On the other hand, there’s growing pressure to shift towards electric vehicles, with some states aiming to ban gasoline vehicles by 2030. The lead time for vehicle development poses a significant challenge, as manufacturers must decide where to allocate their resources for the best long-term return.

Changing Dealer Dynamics: A Smaller Footprint?
The future of car dealerships is also uncertain. Large used car dealers like Carvana and CarMax are grappling with volume and profitability issues. Traditional dealerships, with the burden of maintaining vast lots, are reconsidering their footprint. A potential shift towards smaller dealerships with reduced inventory, representative models, and a focus on order-based sales could be on the horizon.

Fixed Pricing vs. Negotiation: The Customer’s Dilemma
Another aspect in flux is the pricing model. Traditional negotiations have been a hallmark of the car-buying experience. However, emerging trends suggest a move towards fixed pricing. While this eliminates the need for haggling, it also removes the possibility of securing a better deal. The question arises: are consumers willing to trade negotiation for the simplicity of fixed pricing?

Navigating the Road Ahead
As we step into 2023, the car business finds itself at a crossroads. The delicate balance between supply, demand, pricing models, and the impending electric vehicle revolution leaves the industry with critical decisions to make. The future holds uncertainties, and how manufacturers and dealerships navigate these challenges will shape the landscape of the car business in the years to come.

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