The second summer of the pandemic is almost here, but the outlook is totally different this time around. With millions of Americans vaccinated and eager to get out of their immediate and unchanging surroundings, there’s a lot of anticipation of an almost-normal travel season ahead. And there will be frustration, too. There are still pandemic-related restrictions and precautions, but more to the point, pandemic-related shortages and supply chain issues are going to impact all of us. We’re talking about gasoline shortages, scarce rental cars, and vehicle production delays, among other things. It’s going to jam up our summer plans, to some degree, and managing expectations against pent-up travel demand is going to be important.
Let’s lay out what we know about these shortages and what to expect this summer before hitting the road.
The semiconductor chip shortage crippling the industry today is only tangentially related to the pandemic—we’re not short of chips (and, thus, new-car inventory) because, say, workers got too sick to make them. It’s a supply-and-demand issue. At the beginning of the pandemic, demand was extremely high as people isolating at home geared up to work remotely, or spent money saved up on new devices to improve their in-home entertainment. And with chips working their way into ever more classes of consumer and business devices, supply constraint was already going to be an issue. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.