New & Used Vehicle Inventories Rise, But for the Wrong Reasons

New vehicle sales out-plunged production. Used vehicle supply already above normal amid weak sales.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The number of new vehicles in inventory on dealer lots rose to 1.098 million vehicles in December, the fourth month in a row of increases, and the highest inventory level since July, according to data from Cox Automotive. But inventory is still desperately short, after having collapsed by 76% from an average of 3.66 million vehicles in 2019 to just 886,000 vehicles in September, which was the low point of the year.

But inventories inched up for the wrong reason: New vehicle retail sales plunged 24% year-over-year in December, to just 1.40 million vehicles, and thereby out-plunged production that to this day is struggling with the semiconductor shortage.

There’s a circularity here. Sales were so weak because there was so little on the lot, and what customers could buy came with ridiculous prices, which depressed sales, which then allowed inventories to build a little.

The semiconductor issues are still going on. For example, Toyota announced yesterday that production at up to 12 of its plants in Japan will be halted and could cut production in January by as many as 47,000 vehicles. Other automakers are also still struggling with the shortages. And production will take far longer to return to normal than anyone expected a year ago.

For the whole year 2021, new vehicle sales plunged by 12% from 2019 and were back to 1978 levels (my charts on annual auto sales in the US total, and by major automaker going back years).

Supply of new vehicles ticked up to 35 days in December 2021, the highest since April 2021, according to Cox Automotive, which among numerous other brands owns Manheim, the largest auto auction house in the US, and vAuto, a provider of dealership inventory management software.

New vehicle supply had collapsed to just 25 days in September 2021 at the low point. About 60 days is considered healthy. In 2019, supply had averaged 90 days. The spike in supply in March and April 2020 was caused by the collapse of sales volume during the lockdowns.

Used vehicle inventory also rose for the wrong reason.

The number of used vehicles on lots of franchised and independent dealers in December rose to 2.38 million vehicles, the highest since February 2021, according to data from Cox Automotive. This was down by 17% from the average inventory in 2019 (2.88 million vehicles).

From mid-2020 through 2021, used vehicle inventories declined but never collapsed to the extent that new vehicle inventories collapsed, which makes those ridiculous price spikes for used vehicles – that people were actually paying new-vehicle prices for two-year-old vehicles with 25,000 miles on them – that much more astounding.

Supply of used vehicles has been rising since the low point in March and in December hit 51 days, the highest since December 2020. In 2019, supply had averaged 48 days. So in December, supply was above average.

But for the wrong reasons too: The high supply in December 2021 was in part a function of the 5.6% drop in unit sales from December 2020:

The normal state of the auto industry is a glut.

Normally, there’s plenty of inventory perfectly lined up and gleaming on huge dealer lots. Vehicles are being advertised in every media outlet with big discounts as dealers compete with each other to get another vehicle off the lot. Sales are a day-to-day battle, and they’re all trying to move the iron.

Those are the signs of a glut, and it’s the normal condition of the auto industry. They might run out of a hot model every now and then. But these huge dealer lots are normally full of cars, and there is a lot of choice for customers, and they can shop one dealer against the next.

The industry knows how to handle a glut. And prices still rise just fine year-over-year, and dealers are making money because a glut is the normal state.

But mid-2020 through 2021 was a historic exception.

New-vehicle inventories collapsed due to the semiconductor shortage that forced automakers to cut production. The shortage of new vehicles then ricocheted into used vehicles as rental car companies, that together normally buy 2-3 million new vehicles a year, couldn’t get enough new vehicles in 2021, and so they kept their current vehicles in the fleet longer, instead of selling them, which reduced the supply to the used vehicle market.

This situation in 2021 triggered ridiculous price spikes. Dealers advertised new vehicles that were still in transit because they had nothing on the lot. In their ads, they didn’t tout discounts, but the opposite, addendum stickers of $2,000 or $10,000 or even more over MSRP. They sold two-year old used vehicles for the price of a new vehicle. Prices at wholesale auctions exploded, as dealers were aggressively bidding up prices to get inventory. The whole situation was just mind-boggling.

But new vehicle production and inventories now appear to have bottomed out, and while a long way from a full recovery, are inching up. And there is plenty of supply of used vehicles at the current rate of sales. As the production and inventory situation improves, at some point, those ridiculous price spikes that we saw in 2021 are going to be an impediment to sales as customers prove to be unwilling or unable to pay them. And then, it might be back to the times when dealers were actually making deals to move the iron.

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  126 comments for “New & Used Vehicle Inventories Rise, But for the Wrong Reasons

  1. Depth Charge says:

    Meanwhile, DogeCON has a larger market cap than Subaru.

  2. Publius says:

    Aren’t there many mostly assembled vehicles waiting only on chips? What happens as these receive chips? I’m sure some buyers will gladly pay full price in 2022 or 2023 (2024?) for a 2020-assembled vehicle, but I won’t. Can these be passed off as new just because they have no miles?

    • Depth Charge says:

      Yes, they can certainly be sold as new, because they are new, not pre-owned. As long as a vehicle has never had a registered owner, and is under a certain number of miles, it is always considered new. But call it New Old Stock, because that’s what it is. You see it a lot in off-road motorcycles. They order them in boxes for final assembly, and sometimes they order way too many. I’ve seen 3 model year old “new” motorcycles for sale.

      • Motorcycle guy says:

        Depth Charge,

        Just to add to your comment; back in 2004 I was in the market for a new Honda motorcycle. Honda had introduced the VTX series in both 1300cc models and 1800cc models in 2002. They way over produced the bikes for the ’03 model year and I was able to buy an ’03 1800cc bike that had an MSRP of $15,000 for just $8,000 out the door. The dealer even through in a windshield and sissy bar with a luggage rack. I just sold that bike this past summer with 117k miles on it.

        • NBay says:

          You are a real biker, MG, not another one of these “marketing victims”. Although I have to admit I loved the San Jose Mile, and what they could do with that 750 flathead, saw Springer win one at age 19 and others where you could throw a blanket over the front 4. Also saw Robert and De Coster at China Camp…I swear they could run the course without a front wheel if they practiced it.
          Harley did make (in Italy) a 250 that kinda looked like a big Honda CB110 for a while, but I never saw one.
          Give me a rice burner, anyday….or European stuff.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          You put 117k miles on a motorcycle!?!?!? Wow!!

        • Softtail Rider says:

          MG

          Couldn’t resist adding this.
          I have a Harley 82 FLT classic with over 200K miles and a 97 FLST with over 100K miles. All the new Harley’s with frame mounted fairing are FLTC’s. Useless info but interesting to old riders.

      • Duke says:

        search for a headline last week where Toyota sold 1 new FJ cruiser last year (2021) . It was on a dealer lot since built in 2014!

      • El Katz says:

        The issue with NOS (as you call it) new vehicles is that the floor plan institutions won’t hock them at full invoice because they demand the value be paid down on prior model year vehicles – regardless of when they were invoiced to the dealer. In some cases, the dealer has to own them outright as the banks won’t touch them.

        This may not apply to captive finance floor plan institutions

        They also may not qualify for new vehicle financing from non-captive lenders. The used wholesale market doesn’t care a whit about when the factory sold the vehicle to the dealer. The auction value is the auction value. In many cases, the dealers will take the vehicles and may resort to running them through the auction to unload them… or wait for the factory to throw a bunch of incentive money on the hood to make them go away. Or both.

        It’s also unlikely that people would be able to find someone to write a lease at favorable terms on a 2 model year old vehicle (the cutoff window is usually about 6 months after the release of the next model year). Since many people are leasing these days, a below invoice retail sale might be the only avenue to unload aged inventory – regardless of why it’s aged.

        Oh… and motorcycles are different in many ways. Final assembly is done by the dealer and the crated bikes are prepared to be stored with coatings applied, desiccant, and in most cases, fluids drained, by the factory. It’s easier to move them around with a forklift than it is an F350.

    • Jake W says:

      i wonder whether those will go to rental car or taxi fleets for discounts to avoid the exact issue you mentioned.

    • The real problem with that 2 year old vehicle that has been sitting in a field, all weather, waiting for the chips is the brake discs. That stationary vehicle has the brake pads shielding a part of each disc from the weather; while the rest of the disc rusts. After 2 years or so, when next moved out of the field, those brakes will, inevitably, not be new quality smooth, instead, very likely, will be jarring, vibrations due to an uneven part rusty surface of the brake disc. If you have to buy one; insist on new brake discs.

      • El Katz says:

        The rotors can be turned on the car, addressing any rust issues – until they get beyond the point of no return. However, turning the rotor reduces the thickness of the disc which shortens the life of the rotor.

        The brake fluid is also hygroscopic – which simply means that it readily absorbs moisture. The moisture absorbed by the brake fluid can rust the cast iron calipers and cause the pistons to seize. It can also affect the brake master cylinder.

        That’s why they call it “lot rot”.

        • NBay says:

          Don’t forget how gas gets gummy with age. Still a problem even with FI. No, I’m not a total believer in Stabil.

  3. Wisdom Seeker says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the stories from folks here about how the Everything Bubble led to speculation, not just in stocks, bonds, and real estate, not just in cryptos, but now even in vehicles.

    We heard of people buying now to avoid paying more later, and others getting “free rides” by selling older used cars for more than they paid for them a few years ago.

    Maybe making it easier to buy and sell houses and cars wasn’t such a good thing? Reducing transaction costs and times “liquified” the market and made speculation that much easier!

    Hopefully there’s enough pent-up demand (from the production shortfall) to prevent the market from crashing outright as it normalizes. As the market cools, need a way to gently absorb the coming supply from speculative buyers unwinding their 4-wheeled assets.

    • Depth Charge says:

      When you flood the globe with cheap money, on a level unimaginable, this is what you get. The FED are crooks. They stole the future of the young to pad their own net worths.

      • Hal says:

        They stole the future of the old too.

        • Depth Charge says:

          Sure. They’ve punished savers, and hurt the entire middle class and poor, but the young are the ones who have to bear the burden for their entire lives. The old were able to live in a world without this financial terrorism by the FED. QE should be illegal. “The Wealth Effect” and “Trickle-down Economics” are a lie.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Old AND retired….

      • Flea says:

        And. Now it’s run out =spent = deflation

        • Flea says:

          On another subject hamburger was 4$ a pound ,govt jawboned now on sale 2.88 a pound hmmmm

      • Jay says:

        And while I certainly respect Wolf’s knowledge connecting the dots, it’s very possible that most car manufacturers have known for 2-3 months that the end is near. As such, they can easily use the chip shortage as cover for their production cutbacks. We’ll know in the next 3-6 months, depending on how the overall economy performs. I, for one, would not be surprised to see these dealers add on prices go away within 6 months followed by rebates in the least quarter of 2022. There’s no way that this silliness continues throughout 2022, especially since the DOW may very well end the year below 25,000 or less. BTC could easily drop another 50% as well.

    • Rowen says:

      Yeezy Red Octobers…

    • NBay says:

      WS,
      Yeah, I was also thinking all this “just in time” stuff and all the other computer enabled business speed, increases the likelihood of problems, both fiscal and physical……including moral hazard.
      But then I’m just an old form follows function Luddite.

      Alexa probably wouldn’t even speak to me.

      • NBay says:

        Actually, have worked in enough factories to know that Marketing and Production are mortal enemies.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      Eventually all the future demand is going to be pulled forward to the present, no matter how many gimmicks are used. The only reason so many vehicles can be sold at such inflated prices is because of artificially cheap money and basement level credit standards.

      Cars other than as collectibles are a wasting asset. Even with antiques, never be worth current prices without an asset mania. The “wealth” would never support it.

      • El Katz says:

        When the manufacturers were running the big rebates and lease deals, that was pulling forward future demand. The proof was that sales went into the ground like a lawn dart when they attempted to suspend a program.

    • RH says:

      If the trends to diversify away from, or completely move away from, mainland China continue, (hopefully) car prices might remain high in real dollar terms. It is hard to match quasi-slave labor in highly subsidized factories for low prices, and in mainland China, even the factories that did not use quasi-slave labor were often hellish with terrible working conditions and worker abuse, including by forcing them to pay for company, compelled hounsing or low quality food.

      Nevertheless, mainland China was not doing those things from altruism. When they had captured the automobile market in the West, they planned to raise prices after they had driven out other competitors from the business. Read about what happened to TVs.

      Trends are that the major, Japanese and Korean brands were getting driven out by cheaper, Chinese brands. That may yet continue. Later, when they are out of the market, expect prices to rise. That is mercantilism. The CCP’s mercantilistic tactic was not stupid, despite their other, regular idiotic decisions.

  4. David Hall says:

    I paid close to sticker price for my new Ford Escape SE this month, not including sales tax and some other fee. They bought my trade in cheap. While shopping online, I saw most of the dealers’ economy models were gone or pending delivery. The more expensive models remained. I searched dealer websites from Tampa to Naples. Due to an injury, I needed a larger vehicle than my subcompact 2015 Chevy Sonic. I read stories of people flying to other cities to buy cars. I drove. A bill for government funding of new chip fabs did not pass Congress.

  5. Ted says:

    Wolf’s article about dealer behavior and psychology got me to thinking. What if things don’t go back to normal? These dealers are smart people and I’m sure that consumer behavior in the Pandemic did not escape their notice. I can see them all going HMMMM. The manufacturers are already talking about smaller inventories and custom ordering your car the way you want it. I know that most of the new Corvettes are customer orders.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, Porsche dealers have done this for years. Scarcity enables dealers to tip the balance of negotiating power in their favor, just like it has for every auto dealer across the country in recent months. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this becomes the tactic for many brands moving forward.

      • Big Jim says:

        If you want to buy a new Porsche sports car (911 or 718) and live on one of the “coasts,” you will very likely pay $5K simply to get on a waiting list for a build allocation which may never arrive. And if you DO somehow get a build allocation you will very likely pay “Additional Dealer Markup” (ADM) of $5K-$25K over MSRP depending upon the model and dealership…and you will brag to your buddies that you even got that. Most Porsche dealerships in the flyover states are NOT charging ADM to repeat LOCAL customers. However, if you attempt to get an allocation from out-of-state you WILL pay ADM. My guess is this is going to change after the market crash we’re experiencing. A *LOT* of Porsche purchases are funded by the equities market.

        • El Katz says:

          In *normal* times, another reason that there’s an ADM on exotics is that the factory frowns on sales outside their local market area. In some cases, those “pump outs” won’t qualify the dealer for a replacement vehicle on future allocations.

          Then there is also the loss of warranty and service income. When a local buys the vehicle, he’s likely to service it there – at least during the warranty period. The guy who buys in Minot and lives in Austin likely will not.

          Such factory policies were the result of a Dodge dealer in Kellogg, ID becoming the largest in the USA through aggressive marketing outside his primary market area – one of the early adopters of internet sales. Other dealerships found it difficult to complete when that Idaho dealer was selling below invoice because he was always in the “contest money” and then dumping the sales into other markets where those dealers couldn’t handle the service volume from the pump ins. Dealerships have “minimum requirements” based on both sales and registration data… and the dealers that were being pumped were pressured to expand their service departments, parts inventories, capital requirements, etc., to care for those customers who bought elsewhere.

          Yes, a franchised dealer must provide warranty service on any vehicle of that brand per their sales and service agreement… but it doesn’t stipulate when an appointment becomes available. It’s not uncommon for a dealer to schedule their sales customers first (Preferred customer program) and let the pump-ins be fill work at some indefinite point in the future.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Ted,

      Yes, the old normal is gone. There is no going back to it. Whatever will come next will be different.

      • Anthony A. says:

        We might even go to a leasing/subscription model. I believe Volvo is trying that (or did before the pandemic).

        • El Katz says:

          The leasing / subscription models (Zipcar, etc.,) are really only practical in urban areas with dense populations and limited (or expensive) parking availability.

          Flexcar (which merged with Zipcar) started in Seattle, WA in 2000ish. Car Sharing Portland was started in 1998. Nuthin’ new.

          Just doesn’t have a broad appeal. The cars are parked in reserved spots in lots that aren’t always convenient to where you are… sometimes having to walk several blocks to fetch it. It’s not like it’s sitting outside your door.

          We had free membership through my employer (our company was an early champion) and even had Zipcars on campus…. I used one once.

          But our support of Flexcar wasn’t altruistic. It allowed us to get exposure of our products to people who have never driven one in the hope that they would enjoy the experience and purchase one in the future. Wrote it off to marketing.

    • NBay says:

      Speaking of the old normal, when I was in grammar school I remember that time of year when the searchlights (4-6 foot carbon arcs) lit up and wandered the skys, and for everyone it was a really fun family event to dress warm and go down to all the dealers and look at the new models.
      But that was back before trickle-down Econ, huge tax cuts, our corporations breaking the unions, and shipping every job possible overseas, as they were mainly into marketing and pure profit, and not too big on R&D and sustainable society oriented engineering.
      I guess somebody got richer off the change, some “investors” I suppose, but what happens next is beyond my crystal ball.

      • BuySome says:

        Klieg lights. (Now you can impress people with that tidbit of knowledge, but they’ll probably just call you a geek.)

        • NBay says:

          Thanks, and not to out-geek you, but I ran a 30″ 1 BILLION candlepower Xenon arc search light built for the DOD by Strong Electric. Had to strike the arc with RF…sometimes tricky. We were making/testing near infrared filters for it for night vision…..early 70s…..Req’d Secret Clearance like working on Pave Knife, the first “smart bombs”. But my REAL geek claim to fame from that gig was making and holding (everybody in the dept wanted to) the VTPR optics that went into both Voyagers (Pioneers?)…now the farthest man made objects from Earth.

      • El Katz says:

        That died when the manufacturers adopted random new model introduction dates. Back in the 60’s (when that was popular), the introduction dates were static… and the dealerships planned parties with refreshments and prizes. The showroom windows would be papered over for days so no one could see the new cars prior to the event.

        Now you have spy photos and the internet.

    • JohnnySacks says:

      We won’t be ordering what we want. There’s no money in selling base models without things we don’t need to be paid for with money we don’t have. Lots are going to be full of models loaded with several thousand extra dollars of complete useless crap, as always. Try finding a manual transmission for instance.

  6. Michael Engel says:

    Bad is bad. Dealers pile up bad items and pickup trucks.
    The rest, the online trade, is gone within hours.
    The hauler come with 2-4 cars & suv, by sunrise they are gone,
    leaving no marks in dealer’s inventory. That’s why it’s so depressed.

    • Flea says:

      In Midwest used car lots are full, probably way overpriced people in Midwest have common sense

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Flea, he didn’t say the lots weren’t full, he said the bad items are piling up while the good ones sell as soon as they arrive.

  7. Cas127 says:

    ME,

    Periodically you seem to hint at some potentially interesting points but…in the age of the internet, where there are millions of sources of information to be scanned, analyzed, and weighed, your koan-like, obscurantist approach quickly seems less like wisdom and more like the sound of one duck quacking.

    If you have a point, make it clearly and cogently, nobody has time for the games…otherwise people are just going to skip over your posts…which seems like a waste of *everybody’s* time.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      I dunno Cas, I personally like being forced to think a little, and a little differently, by seeing such a different mindset that the words are phrased and structured differently. Insight worth more than clarity.

      Actually I suspect ME’s one above could be turned into a nice Haiku:

      Used cars rust on lot
      Dealer sold the best at dawn
      Visitors see none

      • NBay says:

        Cas needs to take his own advice and meditate on the sound of one post quacking.

    • otis says:

      Cas,

      I hate ellipses. Please stop now and write like I want.

      ;)

  8. DR DOOM says:

    Two things I am really happy with is my 300K miles 4×4 2002 Silverado. Rusted out fender wells included. The second is my SQQQ 3x inverse shorts.

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      I wrote the owners of a 2005 Suburban with 193k miles and clutch issues, a love letter promising I would change the oil more or less regularly and how i’ll take it to the drive thru car wash (where applicable) and i’ll even ignore the odd rips on the headliner.

  9. Wolf Richter says:

    Brent,

    The article you asked me to google is complete braindead click-bait BS with a title that is a LIE. You just didn’t read the article. You just read the headline and felt compelled to post it here. The article is at best a joke. Here are the seven vehicles in the article and they’re ALL FULL of chips:

    1. Tesla Model 3 (2022 model)
    2. Jeep Wrangler Sport
    3. Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport
    4. Mitsubishi i-MiEV
    5. Nissan Frontier
    6. Nissan 370Z
    7. Ram 1500 Classic

    • Yort says:

      From what I’ve read, “chips” became part of most autos in the 1960s and 1970s. The current micro-chips are smaller than the old mother board circuits in autos, but electronic in nature none the less…

      Don’t worry, every human will know exactly what products have “chips” in the future when, not if, we have another Carrington Event geomagnetic storm that hit Earth on Sept 1, 1959. It was basically a solar flare pointed directly at our planet that released so much electromagnetic radiation it literally sparked and melted the telegraph wires and caused fires.

      So unless you have your electronic products stored in a Faraday cage…”Zap”…back to the 1800s for a few decades…

      So best chip detector ever…HA

  10. JeffD says:

    So did these employers lag off 75% of their workers? If not, something is not adding up.

    • JeffD says:

      Sorry, the real question should have been, “Have car companies laid off 25% of their employees?”

      • El Katz says:

        In the case of my ex-employer, the VRO’d them (voluntary retirement) followed by voluntary separation packages and, if insufficient people took those, they threatened involuntary separation. Surprisingly, they exceeded their targets – which was surprising to them.

        In the interim, they have become even more automated (have their own robotics division) and reduced the man hours to manufacture and assemble a vehicle. The factories are about as clean as an operating room.

        There have been few shutdowns… mostly reduced hours (no overtime)… and performing “plant maintenance” (a nice word for “make work”) to keep key operators. The engine and transmission plants can’t just be shut down…. you can’t lock the doors and turn off the lights as (I’m told) the costs to recommission the smelters is quite high. These plants aren’t in suburban Detroit (nor suburban anywhere) so the impact on the communities and ancillary industries that support them is quite high and, to keep in good stead with the locals, they try to keep the lights on pretty much at all costs.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      JeffD,

      Automakers have managed this by temporarily shutting down specific plants for a few weeks or months at a time. They have also managed this by continuing to build vehicles except for a component they couldn’t get and then putting these vehicles on a storage lot. And when the missing component gets in, they install it in the otherwise ready vehicles and send them to dealers. Ford has sold tens of thousands of pickup trucks that way.

      When automakers shut down a plant for a few weeks, employees don’t get laid off permanently. What happens to their pay depends on their union contract, or other furlough programs. When the plant reopens, the old employees are coming back to their old jobs. This is a fairly well-oiled machinery by now.

      • F Cliff says:

        Is there any statistic of how many cars are waiting on manufacturer lots waiting for one or two parts? This could result in a supply glut in H2 as things normalize.

  11. Brent says:

    Ruthless chipization of cars is not something demanded by the customers but rather something that is inflicted upon them by the corporations for various reasons.

    Since mid-90’s people complained that printer ink cost more than human blood (yes-it is a fact),that $60 cartridge prints barely 200 pages,that chip in the cartridge prevents it from being refilled, and if one tries to commit such a crime he will not succeed and will end up looking like spotted hyena ☺

    Recently Brother and Epson cracked under the pressure and introduced “ecotank” and “megatank” models.4 ink containers are visible thru the front window and can be refilled as necessary.And the print head with periodic cleaning will last 10 years minimum.

    One of these days I’ll buy 55 gallon barrel of ink, print 50,000 pages of Federal Register and become a law-abiding citizen,eventually.

    Same with cars.If enough people push back the general trend will probably not be reversed.But there will be chipless car models on the market for the die-hards.

    Remember Bill Gates’ book “The Road Ahead” about how the fridge connected to the internet and reminding you that you’re outta milk will change everything ???

    Well,25 years later my chipless fridge is purring contentedly and doing its job just fine.

    • phleep says:

      I specifically want my pre-chip car. I have other legacy hardware/electronics too. The new stuff is over-helpful (annoying, stupid, unasked-for) and designed to keep everybody on a subscription treadmill. The fees will go wherever the new changed financial imperatives of the company demand. Disgusting. For example, I prize my old-school text-to-speech program that makes mini-audio books for me (yes, it is all lawful personal use) without phoning home and reporting my every move, or imposing new stupid and costly “upgrades.” It truly was freeware — no strings attached whatsoever. Buy once, use (carefully) until it wears out, that’s my credo.

      • Brent says:

        Chipization frenzy manifests itself every where.

        2 companies, LodeStar and SmartGunz, are pushing their “breakthrough” inventions selling for about $1,800(!!!) while mid-range ultra-reliable Glocks and SIGs cost around $500.

        The chip-black rectangle about .8″ x 0.8″-appears to be glued to the handgun slide and is supposed to read your fingerprint.

        Both companies warn that the chip works only in good weather and when the humidity is high it may fail and you must enter the pin code.

        I think it is an $1,800 hoax.Or indirect IQ test for the general public.

        • NBay says:

          Nothing tops the Ethanol Program.
          When this great AI programming effort is able to explain how that program saves energy and resources, THEN I WILL believe we have duplicated human intelligence, or at least common sense.

      • DR DOOM says:

        Everybody wants a recurring income stream, even for a toaster/oven. Gimme dumb. Microwave I got has a rotary time set button-start button-cancel button. Pull to open. Push to close. Dings when it’s done. If you are too damn dumb or lazy and can’t figure out how to keep from blowing up your hot pockets you are too dumb or lazy to breathe. I don’t want f’ing verbal interactions with most people and none with a f’ing machine. There are a lot of people that think a sheet counter app for butt wipe is a good idea. They are a direct threat to the republic.

        • BuySome says:

          Wait a minute…what happened to the whole “three shells” thing? They expecting us to keep us this manual tasking forever?! Damn unfair!!!

      • otis says:

        I saw a guy on the internet talking about the new eco-friendly Peloton pedal car. Its not only full self driving but entirely self powered as well. Will use the scooter rental model. Look for one on your sidewalk soon.

        Rumor is it will have retro-flintstone design elements.

        • BuySome says:

          I’ve been arguing for the creation of an adult sized pedal car for half a century now. Most of what goes into an auto is just there to drag its’ own dead weight around. A driver and minor cargo are of little consequence. Plastic replaces glass. Hard rubber for those bumper car events. A bit of leg & solar juice creation for the electro-assist motor drive to get uphill whenever that’s a concern. Best of all, a return to styling. Maybe add in a flywheel spark generator for that cool looking rocket ship faux exhaust port with the colored plastic flame cover. Imagine Van Nuys Boulevard with thousands of those driving around…cruise nights galore and no wasted gazzo!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          BuySome,

          “I’ve been arguing for the creation of an adult sized pedal car for half a century now.”

          They exist. If you want to rent a “pedal car” for four people, with all four people pedaling, you can do so in San Francisco, down by the water, for tourists. You cannot physically walk as slowly as these things move. Most people are incredibly lazy pedalers :-]

        • BuySome says:

          And everybody will look so trim, you’ll think we had gone back to 1970! A great way to burn that beer.

        • NBay says:

          Sounds like they are just for “When In Rome” selfies…but still kind of a hopeful sign.

      • El Katz says:

        The “chipization” of the automobile can’t be entirely laid at the feet of the manufacturers. Consumer demand for rolling entertainment machines that “drive themselves” is one motivator. Another is the government requirements for items such as backup cameras, tighter emissions (carburetors are harder to control than a fuel injection system), CAFE standards, ABS, etc., ad nauseum…. and soon, brought to a theater near you…. a feature that allows your car to be shut down because the vehicle thinks you’re impaired (or any other nefarious reason they choose). I think that goes into effect in 2025 (part of the U.S. infrastructure bill) unless it gets repealed by someone with an ounce of common sense.

        You’ll have to go back a long way to find chipless cars. And, if enough deplorables try to circumvent Big Brother, the companies that sell reproduction parts and conventional engine components, void of the latest technology, could be run out of business through regulation and mandates at both the state and federal level. They EPA already tried to attack motorsports (see RPM Act of 2021).

        • Brent says:

          Remember the Pentagon’s “Virtual Soldier” & “Every Soldier is a Sensor” concepts of the early 2000’s ?

          Every soldier down to lowly E1 wearing embedded sensors feeding data into helmet with a VR display which shows EVERYTHING,including advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to win wars.

          How did it work out ? 😁

        • NBay says:

          Yes it can. Corporate and a few other “wealth piles” lobbying has been running the show since way before Lincoln’s time, in case you haven’t noticed. Once in a while some problematic activists may get their way, but not for long.

          My SUPER POWERFUL lobbyist uncle maybe said it best about Carter, “What’s a damned scientist doing in the Whitehouse?”.

          My cousins still joke about who “was in his pocket”. One can only make guesses as to who mostly owns who….I used to know, and even met some of them.

    • NBay says:

      I would place a sizable bet with you that there is more than one chip in your 25 year old fridge…..an op amp, maybe 555 timers, and stuff out of the 7400 series…..AT LEAST.
      But I do get and agree with your message.
      When I look at some of the electronic gizmos on cars I just see the modern equivalent of fins….with about as much practical use. Replacing carbs and main valve bodies with electronics, however, is a good thing.

  12. Frank says:

    I just saw a local on-line ad from an auto dealer that mentioned the word “discount” (this for a truck in TX!). I’ve not heard that word for a long time. We’ve likley reached an inflection point for those willing/able to pay $50+ for a vehicle. Traveling cross country recently I’ve also noticed that the RV lots are full of inventory. They keep saying there is a backlog of orders, so I guess there must be a lot of unwanted units sitting on these lots or someone if fibbing…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I saw an ad — something like “$2,000 off” the $10,000 addendum over MSRP. This stuff just boggles my mind. But I think dealers are trying to walk back some of the addendum stickers.

      I’ll keep my eyes on this inventory situation. At some point, as inventory rises and sales languish, and stocks sink, those addendum stickers are going to disappear.

      • Philip E Blythe says:

        Some money id better than no money at some point.

      • NBay says:

        Wonder how long it took the high paid marketing types to choose the word “addendum”? Kinda scholarly rather than “car-y”? But that’s just to me, and I’m definitely not the target audience.

    • TheRealMRDyno says:

      NE Ohio has lots of RV dealers, and they have acquired cheap extra locations to use as vehicle storage. Those storage lots are looking like permanent locations lately, locked gates and nothing moving

      • Anthony A. says:

        New (pandemic type) RV’ers have had their “rig” long enough now to satisfy the family’s pressure to go somewhere. And they found out it’s a lot of work and hassle. Like my wife says when I ask her if she wants to go camping or rent an RV….”I only like to stay in 4 or 5 star hotels”.

        The RV places around here are full of used ones.

  13. Yort says:

    I had a “Wolf Used and New Car Chart PTSD” episode last week when one of my kids drove home from the gas station and oil was leaking down the drivers side frame rail in half a dozen spots profusely as if the oil pan had been punctured or worse. Instantly I visualized Wolf’s auto sales charts from hell in my head, and figured the engine was blown and I’d be spending $20K minimum for something used and kid friendly. Ignorance would have been bliss, so thanks for that Wolf…=)

    Luckily, after inspecting and finding no leaks, I deduced they had run thorough a large oil spill at the gas station down the road and slung it down the drivers side of the auto….HA

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Glad it wasn’t a nightmare after all… This is definitely a good time to keep what you’ve got in good condition!

      And the service shops will know this… In the past I’ve seen enterprising service-shop techs “discovering” alleged leaks wherever they accidentally (or “not”) spilled some juice. It’ll be fun to see what they try next time I bring one in…

      • Cookdoggie says:

        I’m continually warned I have oil leaks at various seals. Never enough to drip on my garage floor. Uh yeah, the truck has 270k miles on it. One service tech warned me it could catch on fire. Kids, the entire world is out to scam you.

  14. Yort says:

    From what I’ve read, “chips” became part of most autos in the 1960s and 1970s. The current micro-chips are smaller than the old mother board circuits in autos, but electronic in nature none the less…

    Don’t worry, every human will know exactly what products have “chips” in the future when, not if, we have another Carrington Event geomagnetic storm that hit Earth on Sept 1, 1959. It was basically a solar flare pointed directly at our planet that released so much electromagnetic radiation it literally sparked and melted the telegraph wires and caused fires.

    So unless you have your electronic products stored in a Faraday cage…”Zap”…back to the 1800s for a few decades…

    So best chip detector ever…HA

    • Yort says:

      1859…not 1959…HA

      • VintageVNvet says:

        When asked, ”what’s the worst thing could happen” such a flare tops my list due to the chips, as well as many other components equally likely to fail at best, be completely blown to pieces and ignite basically everything as part of the process.
        The rest of the worries our species faces are not even close, including what appears to be the upcoming economic crash likely to be worse than the one formerly known as ”THE great depression.”

        • Flea says:

          So a solar flare up would only affect half of earth ?

        • Yort says:

          Asteroid impacts, solar flares, A.I. self awareness…stonks crashing this week seems kind of trivial when you think about it…

          That said, covered my Russell short hedge at close today as indexes dropped past 200 DMAs. I don’t want to get greedy right before the big Fed super plan is reveled Wednesday…can always get back in once JPow shows his cards…

          Kind of sad the Fed has turned the entire global economy into a financial video game, but hey, at least nobody is bored…HA

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          The sun is a genuine Black Swan risk.

          A genuine prepper/homeowner could probably turn their garage into Faraday cage. With a little effort it’d be fairly easily to protect vehicles…

          Also suggests stashing laptops and hard drives in shielded enclosures when not in use…

        • NBay says:

          Better talk with a Canadian about the fights over who owns the Northwest Passage if you want REAL Black Swan…..actually it’s too DAMNED obvious to call a Back Swan.

          Pity, we are kind of a unique species…..as being the first to commit suicide, maybe?

    • Greg Hamilton says:

      Yort,
      That 1859 Carrington Event corresponds approximately with the beginning of the so called Orphan Trains–a strange coincidence.

  15. qt says:

    It’s not just overpriced car price. My wife’s minivan sliding door was jammed. It looked like the motor was working just fine but the door hits something mid way and reverse back. We took it to the local Toyota dealer and they wanted $300 just to open the sliding door to examine the problems. Then they opened the sliding door and couldn’t close it. So my wife was stuck there and had to agree to the price. 3 hours later, the dealer called her and said that the sliding motor needs to be replaced. Parts + labor + taxes was quoted like $3000. WTF. My wife was so MAD!!! We ended up just cutting the sliding cable which they charged us $30 and now just open and close the door manually. The total bills was $330 + taxes.

    • qt says:

      This was a 2011 Toyota Sienna which she brought for $20k (out the door) in 2018. 59k miles. Fully loaded with GPS, leather seats, DVDs, etc. We need to drive this to the grave LOL.

      • Motorcycle guy says:

        qt,

        Love your story.

      • TimTN says:

        So weird you posted this, I have this exact problem with my 2012 sienna as of today. I’m scared to bring it to the dealership because of the situation you describe.

        • Old school says:

          My daughter’s Sienna did the same thing. Disable it and open it manually.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Just cut the friggin’ cable!

        • El Katz says:

          Do a little interwebz searching and you may find that your 2012 vehicle is covered by a 10 year replacement settlement (from date of first registration). Customer support program ZKI (or so it says)

    • Duke says:

      You should have tried a good local mechanic. They might fix it way cheaper. You might as well drive up to the dealer repair center with your ass hanging out the window.

    • Greg Hamilton says:

      Qt,
      That is a common problem with the Sienna. The Toyota master mechanic’s youtube channel, The Car Care, nut recommends cutting the cable on the older Siennas just like you did if you have a problem with the motor and don’t want to pay for an expensive repair. As you said the doors work just fine manually.

      • NBay says:

        Wonder what the hedonic adjustment was for this luxury “feature” that “everyone wanted” so badly?
        What a racket!

        • Khowdung Flunghi says:

          I was thinking the same thing. Over the years I’ve owned numerous VW vans with sliding doors. Never had a problem getting them to open or shut with a minimum of elbow grease. I’m amazed at just how precious people have become. I’m less than convinced that a powered sliding door is an improvement. I think a lot of people are in for some serious attitude adjustment when some of the “helpful” technology heads south. Another Carrington event in the current technological world would be unimaginably catastrophic. Keep it simple, stupid!

        • NBay says:

          “If it’s not there, it can’t break” -Henry Ford

    • aqius says:

      all of the reasons stated above are exactly why I bought my used 1991 Toyota Previa 18 years ago here in N. CA.

      simple. reliable. versatile.

      I could/can afford a new van to haul the kids but looks on the elementary kids faces is priceless when they finally figure out you have to PULL the sliding door open! haha

      btw. 399k. runs like a top. just keep up with the maintenance. it’s not rocket science.

      • NBay says:

        Yep….85-95 22R-E….legendary. Easy to diagnose once you get the vac controlled stuff down…..ECU is simple and bulletproof……..tons of aftermarket parts…..kids love ’em…..off roaders and rock crawlers love ’em.

    • Island Teal says:

      Sad part of your story is that you had paid the $300+ just to get your own car back.
      More reasons why people love dealers 🤑🤑

    • RT says:

      My family had a mini-van with manual sliding door. My relative has a mini van with power sliding door. One time she parked on our drive way and when I was backing up trying to go somewhere in a hurry, I rear rammed into the power sliding door. The bill came out to be more than $3,100. I wonder how much would the door cost if it has been a regular sliding door? In any case, it was a very expensive lesson to learn on my part!

      Glad to know you only need to spend $30+$300 to cut the cable! What an ingenious solution.

  16. Cynical Engineer says:

    I work in a sector that is adjacent to the auto manufacturing industry, and it’s not just automotive that’s having trouble building product: We’re contending with parts availability across the board on a daily basis.

    Thanks to the impending 3G cellular shutdown, we have to replace a bunch of hardware with new units that support 4G. For the last year, it’s been a struggle to find parts. Every single order we have placed with our contract manufacturer has some back with a list of parts they can’t get. We’ve been able to find substitutes on some of them.

    It’s not always the big and expensive parts…one of them was a 24MHz surface-mount crystal. Normally costs about $1.50. Took us a couple of months to find quantity on a suitable part.

    In one case I spent a day searching the basement of the office for a box of partial reels that were left over from a previous production run. Normally we wouldn’t bother with partial reels because it costs too much to service & restart the pick-n-place machine every time a reel runs out. With 300 different parts on the board, that can be a LOT of restarts.

    Others? The NXP microcontroller – our latest order for 4,000 units has an estimated delivery of October. Only availability we’ve been able to find is a scalper that wants 8x NXP’s normal $10 price. There are other controllers, but we’d have to redesign the board and re-engineer the software at a six-figure cost. Timeframe is about the same as waiting for parts availability.

    I’ve heard that Tesla has managed to pull controller substitutions like this off, but I’m pretty sure they did it by completely skipping testing & qualification of new parts. This is the company that when they couldn’t find an automotive-grade LCD panel for the Model S center stack used a consumer-spec panel and was “shocked” when they started failing in the field in a matter of months.

    Our current order for 2,000 Telit cellular modems has an estimated delivery of “sometime in Q4 2022.” And at that, we placed the order in Q4 2021 after our Telit sales rep warned us that we needed to order NOW to have any chance of seeing delivery in 2022. This one hurts because instead of being able to phase the units into the fleet over the next two years we’re going to have to install old units and then pay somebody to go to each car and swap them out later. We can’t substitute something else for the Telit without re-doing our carrier & RF certifications from scratch which would take six months and cost $500k.

    Sometimes it’s not even semiconductors: We have another little unit that we build, and the plastic box we put it in normally has a 2 to 3 week lead time. Vendor is now quoting us 2K units in May….if we’re lucky. We wouldn’t be building these if we could get the Telit’s.

    The 3G cellular shutdown is going to be interesting: Among other side-effects, GM’s OnStar business is taking another hit…the first-gen OnStar was killed by the shutdown of the analog/AMPS cellular networks, and now the OnStar in my 2005 Chevy pickup is about to knocked offline because of the 3G shutdown.

    AT&T is shutting 3G down on 2/22/2022, T-Mobile on 3/31/2022….T-Mobile might last a little longer…they’re still litigating over promises they made when purchasing Sprint. AT&T seems to be pretty firm about the 2/22 date….we tried to get them to extend it and failed. There will be a hell of a lot of cell phones and devices with embedded cellular that are going to be bricked when this happens.

    • JeffD says:

      T-mobile is giving me until July 1 in Orange County, California.

    • Anthony A. says:

      Interesting dilemmas. The 3G shutdown thing is a surprise on what it will impact. Thanks for posting this information.

    • JoeC100 says:

      Just checked my A T & T I Phone 6 and it is not 4g capable.. I had no indication of this upcoming service change!

      This gets Wolf another donation as otherwise I would have not realized this problem until my phone was “bricked”‘on 2/22!!

    • nemo 300 blk says:

      I wonder what effect the 3G shutdown will have on cellular backups on older home alarms and emergency personal push pendants?

      • Cynical Engineer says:

        If they’re using 3G cellular (UMTS/EDGE/HSPA/HSDPA or any flavor of CDMA), they will stop working. If they’re using LTE or CAT M1 they should be fine.

        In general, if the equipment was built before 2011, it’s nearly certain to be using 3G. Between 2011 and 2016 it could be either, and I didn’t see widespread availability of LTE modems for embedded devices until around 2017.

      • Cookdoggie says:

        We had to upgrade our alarm system because of 3G. Our alarm company reached out to us in advance to alert us.

    • NBay says:

      Thanks Cynic, adds to my picture of the “chip and whatnot” shortage.

      Wonder if my old tiny Verizon LG flip phone is on the doomed list? Was wandering around Sears Point after a NASCAR race (we wanted to see if they could turn right :)…)…..and couldn’t always contact the guys I came with. Was pretty obvious when bandwidth is short the big plan payers get priority.

      • Cynical Engineer says:

        When you put 50,000 people together on the same cell tower, nobody has enough bandwidth. The 3G technologies are especially limited. Some of the NASCAR venues have deployed microcells to handle this better, but I don’t know if Sears Point is among them, and it’s usually only a single carrier.

        Take a look at the date of manufacture on your phone (probably under the battery). If it’s prior to 2011, it’s doomed. If it’s prior to 2015, it’s likely to be 3G as well.

        There have been a few 4G/LTE flip phones released, but I’m not aware of any from LG. As of now, you have until 12/31/2022 to figure it out…that’s Verizon’s current 3G shutdown date.

  17. Thomas Maryland says:

    When in a vehicle’s life does it receive a VIN?

  18. David W Young says:

    I guess it took some 6 to 9 months for free-spending Americans to feel the effects of declining real personal incomes after surging inflation while the freebies dried up by Fall, 2021, and the realization that they were paying close to the original sticker price on a 2 to 3 year-old used vehicle with 25 kmi. to 35 kmi. on it. When the Central Bank and the Government of a country create a liquidity pulse that drowns the citizenry in free money adjusted for real-life inflation, you get aberrant behaviors for much longer than one would normally expect.

    But sticker shock is finally here at a used or new vehicle dealership near you. If financing rates go up for the dealers carrying this non-moving and growing inventory, and I am sure they will given what’s happening in the credit markets, then the incentive to cut premiums and offer “relative deals” to buyers is going to go way up. The question is when should one facing a $4,000 plus non-optional repair on a current ride venture into the lots and showrooms. I think by April it will be safe to venture out without a financial advisor or a bodyguard for your wallet.

    • El Katz says:

      I was amused by those talking about the high trade values offered by the dealerships and what a great deal it was.

      The only way it was a “great deal” is if you’re not going to replace the vehicle. Otherwise, you’re just pushing your “big score” into an over priced replacement…. The old heads we win, tails you lose.

  19. L says:

    Let us turn paper $$$$ into things we can use, while paper money is still worth something. Also, while there are still “things” being produced. They will surprise us that one special “Weimar Republic” day.

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