Toyota Motor Corp is currently having to contend with idle factories in Asia, reducing the automaker’s estimated output by over 47,000 units this month. Shockingly, it’s not alleged to have anything to do with the semiconductor shortage that’s been wreaking havoc on Western markets.
With chip production having been localized primarily in China and Taiwan, Asian suppliers have had better access to them. But Eastern markets have still been subjected to other routine plant closures due to supply chain restrictions stemming from the pandemic. Existing protocols in China, combined with renewed restrictions in Japan, have created a situation impacting numerous automakers with Toyota announcing this week that it probably won’t reach its goal of manufacturing 9 million cars this year — though it made sure to include the ongoing semiconductor issue as relevant.
It’s deja vu all over again.
After we managed to squeeze a few auto shows — Chicago, Detroit/Motor Bella, and Los Angeles — in during 2021, we’re back in a place of scheduling uncertainty and possible event cancellations due to the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Despite being one of the only manufacturers not to incur heavy production losses over the global semiconductor shortage, Toyota has announced that its luck has finally run out. The automaker is estimating that it will need to cut assembly by 40 percent this September.
It’s not alone. Both Ford and General Motors have announced they’re also stifling production this week to account for a deficit of chips. Even Volkswagen Group has been cautioning that it might schedule more downtime going into the fall. But that’s basically been the story for all of 2021. Toyota just happens to be the newest inductee.
I touched on it in the newsier post about used-car prices down below, but in normal times, scribes like us sometimes advise our family and friends who are car shopping to buy used, because a lightly used car can be in like-new condition and cost significantly less. And someone else has taken the initial huge depreciation hit.
These are not normal times.
The pandemic isn’t over. But a good chunk of the United States is returning to normal, and at some point, the pandemic will peter out in the rest of the world.
How long that takes is anyone’s guess. And beyond the pay grade of anyone who contributes words to this hallowed site. But we can hazard a guess as to how post-pandemic car sales, perhaps with some assistance from an analyst.
As you might have noticed, or heard from us, rental agencies have been hoovering up new and used vehicles to offset the 2020 selloff that stemmed from everyone mysteriously canceling their travel plans that year. Returning to normal, which is something anyone who didn’t assume the world was ending could have predicted, has resulted in increased pricing for vehicles — regardless of whether you’re renting or buying.
Rental companies typically try to play the vehicle market like the rest of use stocks or (if you’re hip) crypto. Buy low, sell high. But 2021 has created a perfect storm of increased demand coming after a long stretch of nothing and an auto industry that doesn’t seem to be capable of building cars thanks to all sorts of component shortages. But it’s no sweat for the big rental agencies because they’re now able to charge just about whatever they want. They’re keeping vehicles in their fleets longer, making more money off them, and selling them back at elevated prices.
In March, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. According to the Auto Care Association, this was the first month since August 2019 that VMT topped 300 million miles. To give you some perspective, the distance between the earth and the moon is only 238,856 miles, according to Wikipedia.
With car rentals crippled through 2020 as society collectively stopped traveling in response to the pandemic, businesses entered 2021 with the perfect excuse to charge exorbitant fees to lend out some of the cheapest vehicles on the market. Cities have it particularly bad as rental firms find themselves with a surplus of locals wanting to escape and not enough vehicles to serve them. Daily rates now surpass three figures in metropolitan areas and can balloon by hundreds more if a customer wants to return the vehicle out of state (depending on the agency).
However, Hawaii is where things start to get really weird. The islands are reportedly in such short supply of rental cars that tourists are borrowing U-Hauls, where the biggest concerns of mileage and finding a parking space pale in comparison to the upfront cost of something more typical of vacationing families.
The pandemic has changed car buying plans for nearly three out of four shoppers who intended to buy in the next six months. New research from Comscore Automotive Data Mart, cited in a story today by Auto Remarketing, indicated the pandemic tops the concerns of four out of ten who had intended to buy.
Dick DeLoach, a 44-year automotive industry journalist, who was instrumental at Lowrider magazine and many other automotive enthusiast publications, died on November 9, 2020, following complications from COVID-19. He had been admitted to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Ontario on October 25th.
The ninth annual Looking Further with Ford Trends Report has us asking if consumers are as resilient amid the pandemic as Ford claims. The study expresses how COVID-19 has wrought economic, political, and emotional woes, testing the limits of individuals, families, healthcare systems, and society. Focusing on global trends to understand shifting consumer behaviors, it measures how far we’ve come, and where we’re going. This year, the OEM also examined how resilient people are.
“COVID-19 has changed us – but to what degree?” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s global consumer trends and futuring manager.
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- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.
- ToolGuy Pretty cool.
- ToolGuy While Americans sit around griping about emissions from container ships, check out what the French have been up to: https://www.freightwaves.com/news/largest-lng-powered-container-ship-making-maiden-voyage