National city and auto industry looking forward to bright future

Todd is carrying a full load of cars from the Marine Terminal lot in Southivong National City. He has been driving a car since 2007. Until recently, regular trips and a full load have been rare due to pandemic supply-chain issues and chip shortages.

“It was tough, yes,” he said. “We barely had a job. We’re dropping one, two cars here. To make a full load, you have to go about five drops.”

But, he said, business is picking up.

“For now, I don’t know, but the last two months are picking up,” Southivong said.

He said he now lifts an average of two weights a day. The one he’s loaded is headed for Santa Ana and the one he’d taken the day before he took it to Riverside.

A few miles from the terminal is the Mile of Cars, one of the oldest car associations in the country. It started in 1900.

“It’s clearly an institution in the city,” said National City city manager Brad Raulston.

He said that not only was this an institution in his city, but it and other car dealerships also help bring in about $10 million a year, a substantial portion of the city’s revenue, providing services such as public safety. .

“Somewhere from a quarter to a third of our sales tax revenue we depend on to provide the core services,” Raulston said. “When COVID really hit, there was definitely a significant reduction. When I say significant, you know, I would say 40-50% reduction,” Raulston said.

He said dealerships supplemented with sales of used cars and the shortfall lasted only a quarter. Now they’re seeing a steady three to five percent growth in that revenue.

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“So, when we look at the data, it’s impossible to differentiate older cars versus newer cars. As new cars became a challenge … the demand for older cars went up significantly, balancing the scales,” Raulston said. Told.

“You thought 2008-2009 was crazy, when GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and sales dropped 50%, saying: ‘Ah, nothing like this madness can happen again in my career. ,” said Brian Maas, president of California New Car. Dealer Association.

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Matthew Bowler

Dust gathers on hundreds of new Toyota Tacoma trucks that sit in one of National City’s many storage lots waiting to be shipped to new car dealers on July 27, 2022.

Maas said he’s seen a lot in his more than two decades working in the auto industry. But then, he said that COVID-19 broke everything.

Maas said, “There’s not enough inventory to go around. You’re waiting days or weeks or months for special vehicles. Prices are going crazy in both old cars and new cars. It’s really phenomenal.” “

He said the overall picture with new car sales had stabilized somewhat despite that initial decline, but they are now about 10-15% below pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s not because there isn’t demand. There’s significant demand, which is why you’ve seen a substantial increase in the price of cars over the last several months or a year, a year and a half, but it’s a question of not really meeting the needs of consumers. supply of cars to completion,” Maas said.

Maas said that, although we may have seen rows and rows of new trucks at the port in National City, not all makes and models have the same fate in terms of supply, and this could remain an issue until 2023. But he is optimistic, especially when it comes to prices.

“Hopefully we can get through this and be a little more normal in the coming months,” Maas said.

And that would be a good thing not only for customers but also for car riders like Southivong and cities like National City that depend on this industry.