Five ways 2021 may have forever changed the auto industry

The “2021” numerals were being towed into Moments Square past December by the Kia Sorento SUV following a cross-region road-trip that started at the automaker’s U.S. headquarters in Irvine, California, and included much more than 5,500 miles with stops in 15 states.


DETROIT – The automotive business may possibly by no means be the identical right after 2021, an infamous yr that brought enormous improvements sparked by offer chain challenges and the coronavirus pandemic.

The supply chain concerns – most notably, a global scarcity of semiconductor chips – led to traditionally low auto inventories but also record pricing and income amid resilient customer demand and the lack of available cars and trucks.

It is really a situation that some vehicle executives these types of as Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley have pledged to proceed when the market is not in a time of disaster mainly because of the larger margins for the automaker as perfectly as its sellers.

“This is a much better way to operate our business,” Farley told traders earlier this calendar year. “We have the most complex go-to-market technique I feel on planet Earth. We could simplify all of that with tighter inventories.”

Instead of a 75-working day or much more source of motor vehicles, Ford is focusing on a 50 days’ offer. To assist regulate this, Farley would like to move the organization much more to an purchase-based procedure instead of customers shopping for vehicles off a dealer large amount. It will help reduced special discounts from the automaker and allow Ford to much better manage its generation, he mentioned.

The decreased motor vehicle stock amounts and higher rates this year are among the a handful of modifications that automotive executives and analysts believe that may perhaps never ever go back again to pre-2021 degrees. Other modifications involved electric automobiles, provide chains and new rivals. Here’s supplemental info on individuals improvements and far more.


From Normal Motors CEO Mary Barra describing this year as an “inflection stage” to practically all important automakers announcing a pivot to electric automobiles, this year marked a sizeable change in tone for the automotive marketplace and EVs.

Much of that improve was led by the rise of Tesla to grow to be the world’s most valued automaker by industry cap in late-2020 as nicely as a larger emphasis on environmental, social, and corporate governance.

A Rivian R1T electrical pickup truck in the course of the firm’s IPO outdoors the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Even though EVs, like plug-in hybrids, continue being a specialized niche market at about 4% of the U.S. field, executives and industry experts anticipate an intense ramp-up more than the up coming 10 years.

Most notably, the electrification of pickups commenced with deliveries of the Rivian Automotive’s R1T in September and the GMC Hummer EV previously this thirty day period. They are anticipated to be adopted by an electric model of the Ford F-150 – America’s greatest-promoting auto for a long time – in the spring and Tesla’s Cybertruck late next year.


Electrical car firms going community as a result of exclusive objective acquisition providers, or SPACs, was a trend that started out in late-2020 but accelerated in 2021.

From battery and charging suppliers these kinds of as Solid Power or ChargePoint to EV firms this kind of as Lucid Team, these kinds of providers have altered the automotive landscape. When some never expect all of the corporations to realize success, even a person or two new companies can set pressure on the legacy automakers to improve their way, as Tesla has proved.

Vehicle inventories

Factory shutdowns beginning very last spring thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and taking place now because of to a international shortage of semiconductor chips have induced the number of new motor vehicles accessible in the U.S. to access record lows.

Holding a reduced stock of cars is a thing the automotive business has played close to with in the previous but in no way seriously been able to preserve likely precisely, the Detroit automakers that usually have among the the greatest inventory levels.

Tyson Jominy, vice president of facts and analytics at J.D. Electricity, believes the for a longer period the reduced inventory levels go on, “the additional very likely it is that these variations can be manufactured permanent.”

Dealer inventory stages throughout the region keep on being really low because of to a semiconductor chip scarcity that has led to sporadic plant shutdowns and depleted car or truck inventories in 2021.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

“The challenge is it is really a preset asset business and we have a main record of backsliding and generating more simply because the temptation is often there to cheat, produce 1 extra device since of the price efficiencies,” he said.

The vehicle industry had about 1 million new vehicles on supplier lots in December, which was 1.8 million less new automobiles out there for customers to invest in this yr and 2.5 million much less than 2019, according to Cox Automotive. J.D. Power reviews countrywide motor vehicle inventories are at 850,000 automobiles this thirty day period, when retail profits are generally 1.4 million.


The small supplies have led to history dealer profits as individuals are willing to spend a lot more for a new car. Some sellers also are introducing markups, or “current market changes,” on large-demand from customers solutions. Even though that’s not unparalleled, the sum and scope is a lot more than ever in advance of, analysts say.

“Everybody’s going to make a good deal extra revenue mainly because of it from here on out. I just really don’t see it going back again to pre-Covid ranges,” Sonic Automotive President Jeff Dyke explained to CNBC earlier this yr, stating “the total ballgame” has altered in the previous 12 months.

J.D. Electric power stories about 89% of new cars bought by buyers marketed close to or previously mentioned the manufacturer’s advised retail price, also recognised as MSRP or sticker value. That compares with 12% in December 2019.

Cox Automotive reports the normal record value of a new motor vehicle last thirty day period was about $45,000, up from considerably less than $40,000 a yr previously.

“I would most likely argue that some of that could be lasting,” explained Jeff Schuster, LMC’s president of the Americas. “I you should not consider pricing is going to arrive again down to pre-scarcity stages or incentives are going to increase.”

Provide chains

The chip lack and electric powered motor vehicles are causing automakers to rethink their logistics and supply chains, as corporations endeavor to safeguard on their own from these types of a circumstance ever taking place once again.

The adjustments array from more vertically integrating elements manufacturing to forming joint ventures or partnerships with EV battery and chip suppliers.

Toyota Motor before this month introduced a new $1.29 billion battery plant for electrified motor vehicles in North Carolina. It adopted comparable announcements by GM, Ford and other people to go output of EV battery parts closer to residence to reduce costs and lower threats of offer chain disruptions.

“As you would expect, we’re committed to learn from this crisis to be a much stronger company,” Farley explained earlier this 12 months. “We’re getting this prospect to revamp our provide chain to eradicate vulnerabilities down the road.”