By a quirk of fate, I find myself in the used car market. I spent yesterday touring six different automobile dealerships looking for used cars, of which, there are none. The situation is that new cars are sold in advance with a significant waiting list. Therefore, there are fewer trade-ins and fewer used cars on the used car dealer lot. Talking with automobile salespeople at the new car dealership, I learned that they lamented the fact that the dealer has become an order taker and doesn’t really require salespeople. The used car salespeople were lamenting the fact they have no inventory to sell. Interesting situation don’t you think?
In looking at this from an economic development perspective, I wonder what the impact on the economy is? The automotive sector is a major component of our economy here in Michigan and elsewhere. This sector seems to have significant challenges brought about by supply chain disruption and, in particular, lingering microprocessor shortages. The transition to electric vehicles adds another hurtle. Ford announced recently that it will be laying off 8,000 mostly salaried people primarily in their internal combustion vehicle division to free up $5 billion in capital to be invested in their electric vehicle focus. They plan to invest $50 billion by 2026 in the production of electric vehicles.
Our economy is in transition from internal combustion to electric vehicles. In the meantime, I’ve been studying the electric bicycle market to see what that has to offer. It is amazing to me to see how quickly that industry has grown as well as how many choices there are in that marketplace.
To do an end-run around the bottleneck, I contacted a classic car dealer, Garage Kept Motors, LLC. I quickly learn that they were far beyond my price range. Most classic cars now start at $30,000 and go up from there. A 1957 Chevy hardtop was listed for $50,000 on Facebook Marketplace. A car salesperson told me that his wife’s car was worth more in the used car market than they had paid for it new.
Stay tuned! Life is going to be interesting for a while in the automobile industry and will impact many communities here in Michigan and elsewhere.