2023 Will Decide The Fate Of Carvana As Auto Market Cools

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Carvana braces for a tough 2023.

Despite its struggles, Carvana is still a used car giant. It sells just about anything, from common Honda Civic sedans to high-end sports cars. Still, a recent report from Automotive News suggests the retailer is still in trouble. Carvana stock price has plummeted, and woes for the once-great retailer still loom as 2023 approaches.

Carvana will be looking to do three things over the next year. The retailer has already said it is revising its business strategies, and a focus on the company's short-term health is a must.

The brand reported a loss of $508 million for the third quarter this year. AN reports Carvana is also evaluating what it calls the "real estate option," selling land that it purchased in a multi-billion dollar deal.

Carvana/Facebook gocarvana/Instagram Carvana/Facebook

"Making sure that you kind of batten down the hatches and get ready for a time that might be difficult over the next 12 to 18 months and you focus on the things that you know you can do that make a positive contribution now, I think, is important." AN reports CEO Ernie Garcia said this at an event the day before Carvana cut 1,500 jobs. Obviously, tightening belts will be part of Carvana's new strategy in search of greener pastures.

At the very least, volume is still on the brand's side. It sold roughly 425,237 used cars in 2021. But this year, the brand won't even make its own 550,000-car projection. Instead, AN reports the retailer will close 2022 with some 443,000 used vehicles sold.

Carvana/Facebook Carvana

However, analysts still don't think Carvana is out of the fight yet. In an e-mail to Automotive News, Sharon Zackfia, a consumer equity research analyst at William Blair, said it's unlikely Chapter 11 is in the cards for the auto retailer. Other analysts suggest that Carvana even has enough cash to make it through 2023, so long as the economy does too.

That leaves the "real estate option." Carvana bought ADESA US' auction business in May for $2.2 billion. If Carvana needs cash, it can always sell the real estate- which includes vehicle inspection and reconditioning centers- it acquired during ADESA's sale.

Carvana/Facebook Carvana/Facebook

Arguably as important is the brand's image issues. Consumer faith in Carvana has taken a hit due to multiple incidents. Two Pennsylvania Carvana locations were suspended from registration actions and had their ability to perform titling stripped. Another Detroit Carvana location had its license suspended after multiple titling violations.

Then there is the brand's pricing structure to consider. Carvana made a business of selling and buying cars in a legendarily inflated market. Buy high, sell high. It worked for a while, but many vehicles on Carvana's site are listed for more than consumers are willing to pay as the economy- and the auto market- cools. What that means for 2023, Carvana's fate, and whether we'll all be scooping up $20,000 Corvettes after a bankruptcy filing, remains to be seen.

Carvana/Facebook Carvana/Facebook
Source Credits: Automotive News

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