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Three Clear Signs Carvana Was Doomed

carvana vending machine

It was announced today that Carvana laid off 12% of its workforce. People are running around screaming INFLATION! WE’RE DOOMED! THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY IS TANKING! Sure, the industry has its problems and the economy is a mess, but those who are surprised by Carvana’s demise simply weren’t paying attention. Consider the following:

#1. Carvana Was Overpaying Wildly

Yes, the used car market is on fire. Yes, there is a serious supply chain issue and most dealers have little to no inventory. But the prices Carvana paid were clearly inflated, irrational, and unsustainable. Look at these first-hand accounts on Twitter:

carvana tweet
photo: Twitter

That tweet was posted on the eve of the layoffs. Coincidence? I think not. Now, check this one out:

Carvana
photo: Twitter

A 2015 Fiesta with carpet stains and a missing glovebox? It’s the first line of a horror movie, not a compelling advertisement for a used car. Sadly, the casualties in this film were Caravana employees and shareholders.

#2. Carvana Had Issues Reading The Room

Shortly before Mother’s Day, I received this email from Carvana’s marketing team.

The email included cute terms like “mom-approved” and their signature “We’ll Drive You Happy.” Awww, so sweet. But the title of the email? “Vehicles moms will enjoy”? Really?

If this photo had a voiceover, the woman would say, “I just paid too much for my used car, didn’t I?”
His response, “Yes, ma’am. You sure did.” (photo: Carvana)

It’s the equivalent of writing an email on St. Patrick’s Day that reads “Cars Even Irish People Will Like.” It’s offensive and revolting. Somehow I find it impossible that they plan a Father’s Day email titled “Vehicles dads will enjoy” and they wouldn’t dare demean dads with a smiley face emoji. It’s gross. And I feel sorry for poor “Sarah C.” whose quote was appropriated in this travesty.

#3. Then There’s That Vending Machine

When Carvana put up their vending machine just off the 405 freeway in 2019, I had one thought, “Don’t buy a car from them, it’ll be overpriced.” Because when looking for a used car, using a middle man pushes up the price in the first place. But when that middle man puts up a glass tower as a publicity stunt, we all know who is paying for that. No thanks!

carvana vending machine
photo: Carvana

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of shaking up the used car industry. I am horribly sad for the 2,500 employees who just lost their jobs. But some failures just seem inevitable. I hope Carvana finds a new way to succeed in the future. But, if and when you do, please, before you send that Mother’s Day email, give me a call.

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