PARKED: What is keeping GM trucks in vacant lots?

Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Since the pandemic, thousands of new General Motors (GM) pickups have been sitting on vacant lots around Fort Wayne waiting to head to dealerships.

Officials with GM told us the initial reason was a microchip shortage.

Now, industry experts say there is a new problem.

“It’s a shortage of railcars,” Kelley Blue Book Senior Editor Sean Tucker said. “About 75 percent of the cars in America travel by rail to where they are going.”

Sean Tucker is a senior editor for Kelley Blue Book and has tracked the reasons why so many trucks have been parked since the start of the pandemic.

First, he says the microchip shortages drove new car prices higher, then a tire rubber shortage, and after that, a seat foam shortage.

Now, he says there are not enough train cars to transport pickups where they need to go. He says it’s the result of pandemic shutdowns and poor timing.

“The railroad industry adjusted to the speed at which the automotive industry was building cars last year,” Tucker said. “But the automotive industry has recovered a lot faster than the railroad industry expected. The railroad industry, really just today, is starting to tell us they have an approach for this. We were worried because it takes two to three years to build enough railcars to catch up to this problem.”

Down the road, Tucker says you could see longer trains carrying only GM pickups.

“It’s a crisis,” Tucker said. “I don’t want to pretend that it’s not, but I think it’s going to be a short-lived one than we first feared.”

21Alive reached out to GM about the situation, and officials told us the following: