Five Ways That Buying a Car Has Drastically Changed
Factory shutdowns. Crippling parts shortages. Near-empty dealership lots.
The U.S. auto industry has been through a lot these last three years, forcing car executives, car dealers, and car buyers to adjust on the fly and find new ways of doing business. Now it looks like many of those changes are here to stay.
The upheaval began in the early days of the COVID pandemic, when car companies halted work at their factories and the global supply chain froze up, preventing carmakers from getting many of the parts they needed. A global semiconductor shortage has constrained the supply of chips needed for core components, further limiting production.
But demand for new cars bounced back much quicker than anyone expected. All of a sudden, Americans wanted cars, and dealership lots were mostly cleared out. The result: Buyers were willing to pay record sums for those vehicles that were available, fueling a stretch of highly profitable years for both car companies and auto retailers.
Within the past year, the supply-chain disruptions have begun to ease and stock levels at new-car dealerships are rising. Still, car companies don’t want to return to the days of jam-packed lots and deep discounts, and many car buyers would now prefer to simply order their car online instead of haggling with a dealer.
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