Despite fewer new vehicles on car lots because of chip shortage, dealerships see spike in sales

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A parts shortage has led to emptier lots at car dealerships.

The global shortage of semiconductors has forced General Motors to cut production at several factories as chip supplies seem to be growing tighter. The chips are a grouping of electrical circuits on a piece of a semiconductor material such as silicon. They’re in just about everything people use on a daily basis – smartphones, computers, household appliances like toasters, and yes, in all modern vehicles. In cars and trucks, chips are in things ranging from safety features such as brakes to entertainment systems and GPS. Due to the high importance of these chips, the trucks at GM Fort Wayne cannot be sold without them.

That has left vehicles parked in vacant lots waiting on chips while dealerships see empty spaces on their car lots. At the same time, dealerships are seeing a higher demand for vehicles as people began spending the money they saved during the pandemic. Summit City has seen between 150 to 200 percent in vehicle sales, meaning they are selling cars before they even reach their lot.

“We’re selling more cars than we have on the lot,” said Jane DeHaven, dealer president of Summit City Chevrolet. “People are actually putting down payments on incoming vehicles to save them. They might not be here for three or four weeks, five weeks and they’ve put down money to ensure they get that car.”

According to DeHaven, part of the reason for the higher demand is that people are looking to spend money they have saved over the course of the pandemic. The chip shortage has been a minor hurdle in getting buyers their vehicles. It is a hurdle that DeHaven anticipates will not go away anytime soon.

“I think eventually the inventory will be restored, but it’s going to be a year or so before that happens,” DeHaven said. “Possibly to at least the rest of this year we are going to be in this just-in-time car inventory situation.”

A side effect of the chip shortage and demand increase is that the value of used cars have gone up. DeHaven said Summit City has been looking to buy used vehicles to fill gaps in the inventory while they wait for new cars to come in.

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