[IHT LONG BEACH, California:] Gleaming new Mercedes cars roll one by one out of a huge container ship here and onto a pier. Ordinarily the cars would be loaded on trucks within hours, destined for dealerships around the United States. But these are not ordinary times.
For now, the port itself is the destination. Unwelcome by dealers and buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused on increasingly crowded port property.
And for the first time, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan have each asked to lease space from the port for these orphan vehicles. They are turning dozens of acres of the nation’s second-largest container port into a parking lot, creating a vivid picture of a paralyzed auto business and an economy in peril.