Buying a car can be arduous task. But thanks to the pandemic, experts say buying a used car may now be even tougher and price tags may be higher. IU Kelley School of Business Professor P. Roberto Garcia says the issue comes down to supply and demand. Fewer new cars are being produced, and rental car companies normally get their fleets from new vehicles. However, the original equipment manufacturers started to tank because of COVID-19, Garcia says, so they cut their production and sent workers home. That trickled down the supply chain to the suppliers, including production of semiconductors, which have become increasingly vital as more vehicles get high-tech with the addition of navigation systems, passenger safety systems, rearview cameras, smart features and autonomous driving. What nobody saw coming, Garcia says, was that electronics and appliances started putting in more and more semiconductor orders for computers, smartphones and gaming. So when the automotive industry started roaring back earlier than expected, in part because of stimulus checks, the 10 largest semiconductor manufacturers had shifted production toward other areas. Garcia says increasing semiconductor production cannot be increased overnight. As automotive plants cut shifts or shut down for weeks at a time, new car inventory started drying up at dealerships, and people who were normally in the market for new cars bought used cars instead. Additionally, Garcia says more people started traveling by automobile due to COVID-19, and rental car companies, who normally get fleet discounts from car manufacturers, were forced into the used car market due to a shortage of new car supply. Garcia says things will not begin to settle down until 2022, when production can be increased enough to meet the demand. Once that happens, he says the rental car companies will be able to purchase enough new cars to replenish their fleets, and they'll be able to retire their older vehicles, replenishing the used car market.
In other news, starting this fall, Indiana law is requiring computer science coursework to be offered in all Indiana schools. In an effort to help teachers meet those standards, the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is again offering free Computing by Design workshops to train Indiana public high school and middle school teachers on expanding computer science in the classroom. Last summer, 112 teachers participated. Over the next two summers, thanks to a $1.59M grant from Indiana Department of Education, the workshop is being offered to more than 300 Indiana educators and will help them prepare to be able to offer computer science classes at their schools. IU Lecturer Jim Lyst, who leads curriculum for the program, says the need for professional development in computer science continues to rise quickly. At the same time, he says the unique context for every teacher and school demands an adaptable pathway to preparing successful coursework, and these workshops help address that. To allow for greater flexibility of time, the workshops will be largely conducted online, in addition to live Zoom meetings and other online materials. Teachers also will have access to School of Informatics and Computing faculty for remote technical assistance during the training and throughout the academic year using a web-based workspace.