Car dealers in inventory trouble | Winchester Star


WINCHESTER – Nearly empty parking lots are not uncommon these days in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Struggling with new and used inventory shortages as well as supply chain issues, auto dealers across the region have learned almost on the fly how to be innovative to solve what the President of Marlow Auto Group , Emily Marlow Beck, calls it a “transportation problem”.

Auto factories in North America, Europe and Asia have closed at a high rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other tech companies responsible for semiconductor chips used in new vehicles have had to abandon the process. production due to demand in other technological fields.

This has put a strain on new car sales across the country.

According to, new car sales for June are down about 14% from 2019, which was before the pandemic. It was the first month the chip shortage impacted actual sales, the website said.

About 17 million cars were sold in the United States in 2019, the fifth consecutive year the auto industry has sold so much, Car and Driver reported. Current projections for 2021 sales remain at 16 million, with the number of sales declining in the third quarter, and possibly also the fourth, due to the shortage.

Jeremy Seibert, general manager of Tri-State Nissan in Winchester, said automakers are increasingly estimating production cuts every two weeks.

No brand or dealer has been uniquely affected throughout the shortage.

“We get questions about this all the time and people think it’s specific to our dealers. I don’t think people realize until they take a step back and look at it from our perspective that this is not a problem unique to a particular store. It’s a global problem, ”Beck said. “It’s real, and it’s a challenge to navigate. It’s hard to predict. It’s a sequel to COVID, of course, that we didn’t anticipate. “

What could hurt dealers even more than a shortage of chips is a node in the supply chain, Beck and Seibert said.

“Supply chain issues not only impact new inventory, but parts as well,” Seibert said. “It impacts body shops and service centers because they can’t get parts. This creates a much larger problem.

Dealing with these issues, along with dealing with COVID-19 in the past 19 months, however, has helped many dealers refocus, Beck said.

“One of the things we’ve learned from COVID is that transportation is essential. We had to be really innovative in solving our customers’ problems, helping our customers and meeting their transportation needs, ”she said. “In some cases it just means gaining their trust and educating them on products they might not have thought of, and in some cases it can mean showing customers a used vehicle or a car from the company. certified opportunity (CPO). “

Just because new vehicles aren’t loaded on dealership lots doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for vehicles, Beck said.

She said a lot of customers buy CPO vehicles. The automaker, Seibert explained, has a very specific checklist that an after-sales service department goes through to consider the vehicle “nearly new.” It is held to a “much higher standard” than an older used vehicle. It usually comes with a longer warranty.

Seibert pointed out that while car lots may look empty, that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t cars for sale.

“Even though it looks like we don’t have a lot of them, we still have cars on the way. What’s good for us is that since the demand is so high, when we get a car from the manufacturer, it usually sells out within a day or two. So it looks like we don’t have anything, but we still sell quite a few new cars. They sell just before being staged in the field. It’s not the volume we want, however.

Beck said COVID has changed the lifestyles of many consumers. For example, many people drive more on vacation than to fly. Or they can drive in cities instead of taking public transportation.

His advice to people looking for a new or new vehicle for them is: “If you come to our lot and don’t see what you want, don’t let your process end there. If you contact us, we might be able to find it somewhere else or maybe there is something in the pipeline that hasn’t happened here yet.

Part of this is building and using relationships with other dealers, Seibert said.

“What’s good is that we have such strong relationships with other dealers. If a client comes into the field looking for something specific, we may not have it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get it. Times like this, you really learn how important these relationships are. “

But it comes down to communication, Beck said – letting customers know that dealerships are there to help them and are working to solve the issues consumers face, she said.

“We try to use all the resources at our disposal. The most important thing is to get people to call us or email us or communicate what their needs are. We have to be very good listeners right now, ”said Beck. “It’s not about selling a car, it’s about solving a transportation problem.

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