Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Car dealers' annual year-end sell-a-thons have turned into wait-a-thons for many shoppers unable to find the vehicle they want on dealer lots — but that could be about to change as some companies modernize the way they sell their cars.

Why it matters: Supply chain disruptions could have a silver lining for automakers if Americans can be trained to order the exact car they want — color, features, bells and whistles — and then wait a month or so for it to be delivered.

  • This is how Europeans have been buying cars since World War II, when money and materials were in short supply and factories were struggling to recover.
  • But Americans are accustomed to going to the dealership and driving home in a shiny new car off the lot.

What's happening: Some companies say they plan to capitalize on the inventory crunch to permanently shift to an order-based system, starting with their new lineups of electric vehicles.

  • Ford Motor, for example, is trying a build-to-order scheme with its new Mustang Mach-e, which is in high demand.
  • And Ford is offering a $1,000 discount to customers who pre-order any vehicle.

What they're saying: "You cannot imagine ... how much money we waste by not -- by guessing what our launch mix is for a new product," Ford CEO Jim Farley told investors and analysts in October.

  • A build-to-order model, he says, is a far more efficient way to run the business.

Between the lines: Packing lots with large numbers of cars, trucks and SUVs is a huge drain on profits for both dealers and automakers.

  • Dealers have to cover the cost of financing all those cars sitting around, waiting for a buyer.
  • And automakers usually wind up producing more cars than they need to, in hopes of satisfying every shopper's desire. That means more parts, more labor and more cost.
  • Inevitably, though, they end up spending more on advertising and incentives to clear out the slow sellers.

Yes, but: Automakers have tried before to switch to a build-to-order model, with little success.

  • "Americans have no patience. We're too impulsive," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive.
  • "Right now, we’re in an unusual situation, so people are putting their dibs in," says Krebs. That doesn't mean it's a new business model.

It's been a hard lesson for newcomers like Polestar, the Swedish electric car manufacturer spun off from Volvo, which had to tweak its U.S. strategy.

  • It had planned to deliver customer-ordered vehicles to stores, which would carry no vehicles on their lots.
  • But franchised Polestar dealers discovered impatient buyers wouldn't wait, and they risked losing sales to competitors.
  • Now, Polestar furnishes retailers with five to seven cars for spot deliveries.

The bottom line: The pandemic finally made it possible to complete your car purchase online without ever setting foot in a showroom.

  • The big question is whether ordering the exact car you want from the factory is next.

Editor's note: Cox Automotive's parent, Cox Enterprises, is an investor in Axios.

Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
Jan 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Fugitive Carlos Ghosn calls Japanese justice system a 'joke'

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Nissan boss and international fugitive Carlos Ghosn predicts a major reordering of the power center in the auto industry, he told Axios in an exclusive interview.

Why it matters: Ghosn was once one of the automotive industry's most powerful leaders — among the first major execs to invest in electric vehicles. His comments now come during a major inflection point in the sector's transition to EVs as companies battle for positioning.

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.