This link came in an email that was getting passed around the office today:


The premise is that car manufacturers, not wanting to dilute their inventory to a point that would push supply up and price down, are parking their inventory in massive lots where they'll sit for an indefinite amount of time.

While the site doesn't exactly present the information in a convincing fashion, the photographs are intriguing. It seems that the cars parked near a port are probably waiting to be loaded onto a ship for export, but the photos of cars parked at inland locations are puzzling and for these it's more difficult to create an alternative explanation.

Why would car manufacturers not scale down production if indeed their inventory is getting sent to some auto purgatory far away, never to be sold? It seems prohibitively expensive to keep manufacturing inventory that won't bring in future revenue.

What's going on in these photos?


1 Answer 1


Are there lots full of unsold cars? Yes

Are those cars being left to ruin? Almost certainly not.

Here is a much more reliable story about lots full of unsold cars, from Business Insider. However you should notice an important thing: it's from 2009 - when the most recent recession was just getting started, and car sales were plummetting.

The next thing to notice is that most of the pictures are of working ports. Ports generally have lots of cars parked around them at the best of times, because of the way they work. A ship shows up, and all the cars are unloaded (often thousands of them). Then the cars are dispersed gradually to dealers served by the port. A thousand cars certainly isn't of itself a sign that there is a surplus of cars. It may just mean a ship recently arrived.

The Business Insider article points to the stockpile growing (because of the recession), and notes that some places are being used to park unsold cars that wouldn't usually be - test tracks for example. However it also contains a description of how the problem is fixed. Car manufacturers import fewer cars, and ultimately manufacture fewer (and lay off workers or close factories). But doing this takes time, and can be damaging if the surplus turns out to be short lived. There is nothing there to indicate that cars are being trashed, or deliberately left to ruin.

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    The only notable exception to this that I can think of is after natural disasters involving widespread flooding - flood damaged cars are very difficult to sell, and, for example, after Hurricane Sandy, tens of thousands of cars did indeed sit in lots around the region before being auctioned off as little more than scrap or parts. Commented May 17, 2014 at 2:15

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