Here’s Why Experts Think a Global Car Shortage Is Coming

New car options are getting limited.
New car options are getting limited. / Andy445/iStock via Getty Images

You’ve probably heard of the supply chain issues affecting everything from toilet paper to treadmills. Rising fuel costs, transportation issues, and material availability is having a dramatic effect on things we used to take for granted—like well-stocked grocery shelves.

For people thinking about buying a new car, there’s another supply shortage to keep an eye on—magnesium.

According to Jalopnik, car industry observers are pointing to magnesium as a key reason there might be limited stock of new vehicles on a global scale in the coming months. Magnesium is used for aluminum alloys, which are found in a huge variety of car parts, from body panels to brakes to wheels. If car manufacturers don’t have access to magnesium, things would grind to a halt.

So why would magnesium dry up? In China, where roughly 85 percent of the world’s supply is made, factories are shutting down as a result of the country’s energy crisis. Keeping an inventory of magnesium is a problem, too. Because it oxidizes quickly, it can’t be stored for long.

Fortunately, magnesium is also produced in the U.S., which should help manufacturers somewhat. But magnesium isn’t the only problem facing new car production. There’s also a semiconductor shortage. Those chips calibrate fuel injection. The end result has been steep mark-ups, especially on popular models, and a severe lack of inventory—as much as a 64 percent reduction over 2020. If magnesium becomes an issue, that can only make the problem worse.

If you had your eye on a new vehicle, it might be time to consider that your second or third choice might wind up being your only choice for the foreseeable future. Having flexibility on the color or make could mean the difference between driving home in a new model and waiting it out.

Some people are also having luck placing direct orders for cars with manufacturers or traveling to dealerships out of their immediate area to find the car they want. Whichever route you choose, it would be a good idea to make sure you maintain the car you’ve got with regular inspections, oil changes, and maintenance. You might be driving it for a little longer than planned.

[h/t Jalopnik]