Used-car seller Carvana plans to add up to 3,500 new jobs in Georgia

Carvana's 12-story vending machine in midtown Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana Co. said Tuesday that it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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Carvana's 12-story vending machine in midtown Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana Co. said Tuesday that it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

High demand fuels online retailer’s expansion

Fueled by high demand for used vehicles, Carvana Co. said Tuesday it plans to hire as many as 3,500 new employees in Georgia over the next few years as the online retailer expands its campus in Dunwoody.

The fast-growing used car specialist already employs about 1,500 Georgians. It recently subleased a 21-story building at the suburban State Farm complex overlooking I-285 and is hiring for positions in customer service, engineering and other roles.

There was no immediate timeline for the new hires, though Gov. Brian Kemp credited the state’s “world-class infrastructure and workforce” for cementing Carvana’s decision.

“This expansion will provide many exciting opportunities for hardworking Georgians,” he said, “and represents another step in the Peach State’s growth as a hub for forward-thinking companies.”

The Arizona-based company announced the plans as competition heats up in the used-car market and it tries to address consumer complaints that threaten several years of breakneck growth. After soaring in the wake of its initial public offering in 2017, the company’s share price has plunged around 50% this year.

Carvana, which launched in January 2013 at the High Museum of Art, now operates several logistics hubs and an inspection center in Georgia. It opened a 12-story Car Vending Machine, the tallest in the U.S., in November 2020 in Midtown.

“Atlanta was the first market where we sold 1,000 cars in one month and is still our largest even though we’ve sold more than one million vehicles to date,” said Chief Executive Ernie Garcia. “Now more than ever, we remain committed to our continued expansion within the region.”

The company’s expansion was announced as Georgia positions itself as an automotive center.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian in December announced it will build a $5 billion manufacturing facility about an hour’s drive east of Atlanta that will employ at least 7,500 people. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz recently relocated their U.S. headquarters to metro Atlanta.

Carvana said in a November letter to shareholders it was “hard at work unlocking additional capacity” because it’s buying and selling more than three times as many cars as it was two years ago.

The company has benefited from a surge in used-car prices after the pandemic curtailed new vehicle production. Used-car prices were 40.5% higher in January from a year earlier, according to the Department of Labor. Automotive factories haven’t been able to keep up with demand because of shortages for key parts including semiconductor chips.

But rivals increasingly are eyeing the lucrative used-car market. General Motors announced last month it would begin selling used cars online, joining CarMax, Vroom and other secondhand sellers. And some states are investigating complaints from consumers who say Carvana has been slow to process titles needed to transfer ownership and register vehicles.

Carvana in September finalized plans to sublease more than 550,000 square feet in State Farm’s office complex in Dunwoody, vastly expanding the firm’s footprint in metro Atlanta.

Katie Kirkpatrick, the chief executive of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said a “customer experience center” headquarters is planned for the hub.

“Carvana will benefit from our large, skilled, and diverse workforce fueled by our universities as well as people moving to our region from all over the world,” she said.