Odometer rollbacks were a thing back in the day when cars had mechanical components tracking mileage instead of advanced computers. Despite the complexity involved in tampering with modern vehicles, one Ohio dealership group is accused of rolling back the mileage on used vehicles and deceiving buyers about the condition of its inventory.
We’ve been hearing about the rise of electric vehicles for years, but while they are growing rapidly in number, there’s still a disconnect between an auto industry hell-bent on electrification and the desires of the people they rely on to buy new cars. Axios recently highlighted the issue and found that dealers have EV inventory sitting on their lots for extended periods, suggesting that supply is significantly outpacing demand.
The last few years have been crazy for car shoppers, with inventory shortages and harsh price gouging running rampant. That said, the market seems to be healing, and some dealers now find themselves with too much inventory on hand. CarEdge recently released a report on the vehicles that sit on dealers’ lots the longest, and one Jeep model shows more than two years of supply.
A couple of months ago, we reported on the decline of wholesale used car prices but cautioned you not to get too excited about getting a killer deal on your next purchase. Now, The Hill has more news on the subject, and, unfortunately, it’s not all that great for car buyers.
If you frequent this website, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an article discussing how smaller car dealerships are being incorporated into larger entities over the last few years. As with most other industries, the trend has been accelerating and Automotive News just shared the metrics showing how far we’ve come over the last decade. According to the report, consolidation among mega dealers has made heaps of progress of late and should continue on with their mission of never-ending growth because none of them want to become the little guy after every pint-sized showroom has been bought up in North America.
As the industry continues struggling with its planned swap to electric vehicles, we’ve seen plenty of framing suggesting dealer networks are only too happy to participate. But it’s usually juxtaposed with articles indicating that pushback exists, typically whenever the metaphorical rubber meets the road. This month provided several premium examples stemming from the National Automobile Dealers Association Expo (NADA Show 2022) held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Though the best had to be when several dealer groups piped up about how much it’s actually going to cost them to install some of the newer chargers some manufacturers believe should be mandatory if they’re intent on selling EVs. Some showrooms are finding out that not all buildings are wired for the high loads incurred by modern charging systems, requiring additional financial investments they hadn’t counted on. With automotive dealerships using product delays as leverage for unprecedented vehicle pricing, it’s nice to see them getting a taste of their own medicine. Or it would be if the costs for updating facilities weren’t guaranteed to be reflected on future window stickers.
To say that headline is an understatement is akin to saying Vesuvius barely covered Pompeii. The last calendar year saw plenty of struggles for those trying to move metal, many of which resulted in empty dealer lots bereft of product to actually sell. A colleague in the industry told this author he had an up who strolled into his showroom loudly declaring “I’m looking for a ’22 Suburban,” to which my friend replied “Me too, buddy.”
Yeah, it was that kind of year.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you’ve likely noticed that some of the models you were interested in aren’t available in your preferred format and happen to be accompanied by sizable dealer markups. Well the used market, formerly a refuge for those seeking a bargain and a shrewd way of dodging the steepest period of deprecation, isn’t doing much better.
According to Black Book, the typical transaction price for used vehicles has gone up by over $500 in less than a month. Pegged at $27,000 in November, the average secondhand car now trades for over $27,500. As we’ve recently covered just how wild secondhand vehicle prices have become in 2021, we’ll keep this one relatively brief. But it must be said that automotive values are starting to seem totally disconnected from anything that could be considered rational as cars now have MSRPs a third higher than they were at the start of 2021.
Car dealers have been polled for the fourth-quarter Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index (CADSI) and they’re still incredibly optimistic, despite losing some of their earlier confidence that new-vehicle sales would be relatively healthy.
The dealer optimism – especially among franchised entities – seems to be wholly tied to profitability here. New vehicle sales dropped in 2019 and absolutely cratered in 2020 due to the nation’s response to the pandemic. In spite of there being plenty of talking heads in the news media telling you not to stress about the economy, inflation has created pricing increases across the board and automobiles are at the tippy top of that list. With inventories remaining relatively lean due to production slowdowns, staggering dealer markups have become the norm. Basically, stores just seem happy that they can charge more per car while they’re in short supply. But they’re also starting to have concerns about the long-term viability of the market and are are feeling the pinch of rising operating costs.
Used-vehicle prices set another record last month thanks to elevated demand and suppressed production of new cars. Depending on who you ask, the typical transaction fee for a secondhand automobile rose nearly 50 percent in November vs the same period in 2020. While the pandemic had meaningfully suppressed demand during that time, that’s still a staggering increase over any 12-month period.
Sharing Cox Automotive’s Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, Automotive News nailed down the annual difference to a 44-percent increase. This also represents the November pricing index swelling by 3.9 percent against October, which is noteworthy in itself. But what does that look like in dollars?
No one reading this will assert the current environment is anything but a seller’s market. Numerous vehicles are being hawked for many thousands (in some cases, tens of thousands) over sticker and a vast amount of machines are pre-sold before they arrive at dealerships on the back of a hauler. And all that assumes there are any rigs to be had at all.
One customer north of the border is alleging they have been denied the opportunity to buy a vehicle unless they also agreed to take roughly $3,000 worth of warranties and rustproofing. The dealer, of course, denies it all.
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has elected Mike Alford as its chairman for 2022. The decision was announced shortly after the group’s board adjourned on Tuesday.
Alford — who heads Marine Chevrolet Cadillac in Jacksonville, North Carolina — currently serves as NADA vice chairman and will be taking over for Paul Walser next year. Geoffrey Pohanka was chosen as the vice-chair, setting him up as a strong contender for the top position in 2023.
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- Zerofoo There's a joke here somewhere about Tim's used car recommendations, Tassos, and death traps.