The factory flow of new vehicles appears to be picking back up at last, promising dealers an improved inventory for 2023 and beyond.
But used cars and trucks might be a different story.
Do the math.
From 2020 through 2022, U.S. retailers sold 43.5 million new vehicles. That was a decline of 8.2 million new vehicles from the number sold in the three previous years, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center.
So that was 8.2 million vehicles that did not enter into the pipeline to become a used vehicle in a few years; 8.2 million units that will never potentially come off lease and become a shiny certified pre-owned product; 8.2 million units that will never reach an auction lot, never grease a sale by being a trade-in and never be old enough to need brake work, collision repair, a new fuel pump, new tires or even an oil change.
Because they don't exist.
The industry lately has been focused on the immediate challenge of getting new cars and trucks into the hands of consumers. The problem soon will be getting fresh pre-owned vehicles into the hands of retailers. And competition for what's available is certain to intensify.
But used cars have become a far more important factor in dealership profits than they were a decade ago. One thing we can expect going forward is that retailers will find new ways to stay competitive with what's available.