Car dealerships in central Virginia facing shortages

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:46 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Lots at dealerships like Carter Myers Automotive are looking more scarce. The reason boils down to a shortage of microchips. That’s changing not only what cars are available and how much we pay for them, but also how cars are bought and sold.

“As we look at new car inventory, specially over the next 12 months, while we do believe that the actual microchips are going to become more available, it is most likely going to take a lot of time for us to catch up on our inventory situation,” Liza Borches, CMA president and CEO, said.

That inventory situation is operating nowhere near normal.

“We normally would be running at a 60 to 90 day supply of new cars, and in today’s environment, we’re running at a five-day supply with most of our manufacturers,” Borches said. “In fact, some of our dealerships are getting to the point where we have zero cars on the ground, but then a truck comes in, a whole load, and it’s like Christmas morning.”

Chris Gleason with Jim Price Automotive says the dealership’s inventory is down nearly 90%.

“Today we’ve got, between the two stores, we have 30 vehicles to sell. Normally we would have between 250 and 275,” Gleason said.

That means longer wait times for potential buyers. But, dealerships say its caused things to shift online.

“It used to be people would come in and shop through acres and acres of cars and say ‘I want this, I want that,’” Gleason said. “Now, most people are having to look online. They’re going onto manufacturers websites, building the ideal car, and then they’re shopping for who’s going to have it or who’s going to have it in the future.”

Gleason said he does believe the worst of the shortage is behind us, and that both dealerships and buyers have adapted to the issue.

Both Gleason and Borches said the best thing to do if you want to buy a car, is to talk to a dealer sooner rather than later, and try to order ahead if possible.

“We’ll get a great 2-or-3-year-old Nissan in with like 15,000 miles and then it’s gone the next day. But if we have a customer who we know is looking for that car, they might be our first call,” Borches said.

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