Unsold Cars Pile Up at West Coast Port

Carport

For a rather stunning visual of a miserable car market and a stagnant economy, look no further than the Port of Long Beach in California where thousands of unsold cars sit in industrial-sized parking lots, unwanted by dealerships or buyers.

Normally, these cars would have only a temporary stay in these lots, but recently Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan have all leased space to store these vehicles that no one wants. Toyota, having already leased six acres purely for overflow storage, is looking for more. Shrinking demand, especially in Southern California, has forced it to find new storage space for the cars it has coming off boats crossing the Pacific.

Perhaps this is the one area where domestic automakers have more experience. GM, Chrysler, and Ford have been storing unsold vehicles at the Michigan state fair grounds and at its airports for two years.

(Photograph from The New York Times)

A Sea of Unwanted Imports (The New York Times)

By Stephen Markley | November 19, 2008 | Comments (19)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

cody

seriously guys, do you think it would be possible for you to point out trouble or a fault with imports without crapping on domestics? i've noticed it in several of your postings. 'the toyota solara is old and outdated...BUT the G6/Sebring is (insert disparaging comment). we all know your bias, but you could at least make a feigned attempt to hide it.

Liger

Cody,

Have you ever driven a g6 or sebring?

It's not bias, they really are that bad.

I have driven many g6's and sebring's as rental cars and have been extremely unimpressed. a g6 with 20k miles has a front suspension that feels like a 20 year old hyundai with 150,000 miles on it.

The sebrings interior is so cheap, that the plastic will slice your finger open when you touch the flash line on the center console.

Liger

Also,

Have you ever noticed how many 10 year old Dodge Neon, Stratus or Intrepids you see on the road? Or Ford Contour's? Or Pontiac Grand Am's?

Not very many, especially for the Dodges.

You still see a lot of Honda Civic's and Accord's, or Corolla's and Camry's, and even Nissan Altima's and Maxima's.

My father purchased a 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix brand new in 1996, and I have never seen a car have so many problems. He has over 100 repair receipts from the dealership on the car. Luckily, he did purchase an extended warranty that covered the car for 150,000 miles.

Alas, the car never made it that many miles, because the engine died at 135,000 miles, and the warranty company wouldn't pay for anymore repairs. Apparently, in the warranty contract the warranty company will only pay upto $10,000 in repairs for the car, then your warranty is up regardless of mileage.

cody

congrats liger, you were able to completely miss the point. i have driven more than a few g6s as rentals (no sebrings), and they are not bad cars. but to continue your established theme of missing points, i have also driven several 20 year old hyundais with over 150000miles (i've been stationed in korea for what adds up to 8 years) and i promise you that a g6 with 20k feels nothing like those cars.

cody

and to answer your second post, i have seen several old domestics on the road, and have friends and family that drive some as well. then again, i'm from the southwest, and people from that region have been pretty loyal to domestics. i don't see many old imports, again probably due to the region i live in. i myself have a 94 blazer and a 05 focus. both are doing just fine.

the comment had nothing to do with bias, it is pointing out why this is a story. One group of automakers has not had to do this before, while another has. you can't argue that. we don't even make a mention of quality etc.

cody

your last paragraph adds nothing to the story, other than to point out the troubles that the domestics have been going through over the past year(s). it takes away from the topic by diverting attention and is therefore unnecessary.

it's bias, but if it makes you feel better, we can just say that you are ensuring that the readers has all the information so he/she can draw more informed conclusions.

Liger

Are you tracking me or something???

My father is a loyal domestic buyer as well. After the Grand Prix, he purchased a 2001 Pontiac Trans Am, 2004 Toyota 4 Runner, and 2007 Saturn Ion (purely for the 0% for 72 months). Shockingly, the Pontiac and Saturn had as many problems as the 4Runner; none.

My point about the g6 driving like a old Hyundai, is that after about 20,000 miles in a front drive GM car, you can feel the front suspension become very, very loose in the car. And you can feel every little bump or vibration on the road. In a junky, craptastic feeling way. Like the steering gear mechanism or bushings in the front end is worn out. A metal on metal feeling. I have felt it on new impalas, g6's and aura's.

And yes, I have driven more than my fair share of ancient, high mileage hyundais when I sold new hyundai's for 3 years.

cody

not tracking you...just answering your posts that respond to mine. and i would say you're tracking me, since you've responded after me on a few other posts...

i had an 03 ion too (0% as well), but sold it last year. although the interior was..uhum..not impressive, the car was very durable and reliable. it always had a smooth and composed ride, never gave me any mechanical trouble, and was in near-showroom condition when i sold it. (i take good care of my cars).

oh, and whatever you drove at your dealership can not compare to the cars i drove in korea. it's like driving in a mad max movie!

Cody,
I think it is a very good picture of the overall economy and counters the "detroit 3 don't uild cars people want" argument. Clearly people don't want any car right now.

cody

dave t., nice recovery, but i don't buy it. that's fine though...i'm not your only reader, so i'm sure you'll survive.

J

cody,

If Dave is just pointing out those makers that has to rent space to store unsold cars and not mention any from those who are already accustomed to doing so; then he is biased toward the domestics.

cody

right...because the fact that the domestics have been storing excess inventory has never been pointed out on this site....my mistake.

I wish people would stop using rental cars as a gauge of the car. You don't know anything about the abuse it went through. I recently had three rentals after Ike- a dodge Dakota which I only drove one day, a Mitsu galant with 5k on it that got 13 MPG during the week that I had it and an Altima that felt like it the wheels would fall off every time I hit a bump- I had it for 3 weeks and I can attest that rentals are not a proper gauge. People drive the hell out of those cars and they often miss maintenance that an average owner would not miss. That G6 with the suspension issue would have been at the dealer for sure getting repaired under warranty if it were privately owned- instead it is being driven with the problem, making it worse.

Rentals are not taken care of- its common sense.


Broq

Oh, When I brought the Galant back and switched it out for the Altima the rep told me that the car definitely had a problem and would be checked out- I am sure it wasn't, lol. It'll probably be driven until it actually breaks down.


Broq

cody

yeah, in my line of work, i go on a lot of trips with my co-workers and it seems like one of the favorite rental car jokes is, "what's the difference between a rental car and a four-wheel drive??? ...nothin!"

Joe

Cody abviously does absolutely zero research and/or has never heard of statistics. American cars suck, period. Facts have nothing to do with patriotism pal.

Troy S.

If I could afford a new car right now, I'd buy one. I'm still recovering from the past few years of being gouged at the gas pumps.

jean

i hope those new unsold cars stay on those lots until they bring the prices down to what those pieces of junk are really worth.

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