Inventory Levels Have Dealers Freaking Out

The production pauses driven by coronavirus are beginning to take their toll.

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Inventory Levels Have Dealers Freaking Out © Inventory Levels Have Dealers Freaking Out

Good morning and welcome back to Speed Lines, The Drive's roundup of what matters in the world of cars and transportation. On the docket for Tuesday, July 7, 2020: the future of self-driving technology partnerships, dealer inventory is reaching scary-low levels, and the booming road trip industry. 

Dealers Getting "Desperate"

Every car factory in America shut down for several weeks earlier this year as automakers scrambled to get them running safely amid the pandemic (and despite aggressive new safety measures, the results have still been fairly mixed at many plants.) Even now, those factories—including ones outside the U.S.—aren't quite back to running at full speed

That lack of output is catching up to America's car dealers. The economic downturn meant tanking sales in Q2, but those woes were compounded by a lack of cars dealers could sell to those who actually wanted to buy. According to Automotive News, dealers are getting "desperate" as they attempt to rebound in July but still find themselves way down in terms of inventory:

Pickup trucks in particular are in demand right now. One dealer said he expects to sell trucks as soon as they arrive on the lot, and manufacturers like General Motors are hustling to get trucks shipped out as soon as they're built. Basically, dealers have an inventory pinch on top of a sales pinch. 2020: it's just full of good news. 

Game Of Partnerships

Throughout the year on Speed Lines, we've been talking about the pandemic's effects on many things, including the once-promising autonomy startup industry. The future seemed bright for self-driving cars, and the venture capitalists eager to get rich off of them, at the beginning of the year. But now we're in a capital crunch and many startups that don't show signs of revenue won't survive the downturn.

The answer, it increasingly seems, is consolidation and partnerships. The startups with the most promising prospects will team up with big companies like Ford or Amazon, for example, while others may merge. And the lesser fish likely won't survive at all. 

Wired's Aarian Marshall has a good overview on the state of things:

Remember, while autonomous vehicles are generally regarded as The Future®, it's still not clear how exactly they'll make money beyond, potentially, robo-taxis and delivery vehicles. And now is not the best time to have an unclear business model. 

Road Trips Are So Hot Right Now

Are you taking a vacation this summer? If you are, you likely aren't flying anytime soon, for obvious reasons. But car trips are already way up, as are, interestingly enough, Airstream, RV and Winnebago sales. 

Car and Driver has more on this:

So if you're planning such a trip, you aren't alone. That sounds really fun. Maybe I should do the same. 

On Our Radar

New trade agreement means steep learning curve for auto industry (Detroit Free Press)

Jaguar Land Rover said to shortlist former BMW, Audi execs for CEO post (Automotive News)

Nissan secures $7.8 billion from creditors since April: filing (Reuters)

Read These To Seem Smart And Interesting

How “Starship Troopers” Aligns with Our Moment of American Defeat (The New Yorker)

Is Anyone Watching Quibi? (Vulture)

Hot Dogs Are America’s Food, So Why Aren’t They a Fast-Food Staple? (MEL Magazine)

Your Turn

Have you run into inventory issues during your car shopping? (If that's a thing you've been doing.) 

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