TULSA, Okla. – At Bill Knight Ford, owner and chief executive Bill Knight, says his lot is like night and day compared to the days before the pandemic hit.

“Sometimes you can walk in and find a vehicle that showed up that day, but that’s very rare,” Knight said. “Normally we would have 400 vehicles on the ground, and we have 8 today.”

Parking spaces are baking in the sun as pressure on the global supply chain intensifies.

“60% of companies that pay someone else to make their chips are here in the United States,” explained Theodore Washington, a supply chain professor at Oklahoma State University.

Washington knows the supply chain very well.

“In addition to teaching at OSU, I’ve spent the past decade working in supply chain,” Washington explained.

He says the global supply chain was designed to be efficient, the product, like a chip, is ordered, manufactured, unloaded at ports and put on trucks and on its way to the customer.

Due to the global pandemic, shutdowns, labor shortages, and manufacturer shutdowns, he says the past two years has seen the global supply chain look more like a chain reaction of chaos.

“For the past two years, every time that builds, we have a new disruption, either we close in the United States, or they close in Asia, or we are backed up in ports like Long Beach, LA up and on the west coast, we can’t get the product in,” he said.

One chip won’t solve the problem for Bill Knight, who says a single Ford F-150 contains nearly 1,700 chips. On some vehicles it says they will buy them without all the chips so some functions of the car will not work at that time.

“Sometimes they take out some of the more complicated options and allow that SUV to be sent, and then we’ll catch up with the functionality of that chip later,” he said.

Knight says that also means that when you can get a car, there’s not a lot of wiggle room on price.

It says if you want a car now, log in and start the process.

“People who waited eight months ago, if they’re coming today, we’re still six to eight months away, so the most important thing you can do is get on a list and the vehicle that you are looking for, create your custom order the way you want it and communicate with the leadership team,” he said.

He said you can drop off the list at any time, which means the next person on his list moves up and has a chance to buy that vehicle.

Washington says with some Asian countries shut down and long backorders, people should anchor and wait.

“I think we will need another six months or a year to start to fully recover,” he said.

It could be long before the car parks are full of cars again.


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