Empty dealership lots, vacant showrooms and lack of inventory are some of the issues plaguing the auto industry, both locally and nationally.

Semiconductor chips control certain equipment, from power steering to emergency braking systems. They are out of stock from their manufacturers due to COVID-19.

Jack Minnick, assistant sales manager at Duteau Chevrolet on South 27th in Lincoln, said Duteau cannot supply cars to consumers due to the shortage and more car orders are being placed than ever.

“We can’t guarantee exactly when it will be here,” Minnick said. “But at least we know that if you place your order, it’s registered there and your car will be here.”

Minnick said customers who wish to purchase a car by showing up in the field should be aware of the limited selection of vehicles available. Customers who want a specific make and model should order a car now, he said.

The chip shortage affects nearly every dealer in Nebraska in one way or another.

“The most important thing that affects us is inventory,” said Aaron Flanagan, Nissan Sales Manager of Omaha. “We don’t have enough vehicles to sell.

According to Flanagan, it’s hard to find the exact vehicle that customers want. Most of the time, the dealership won’t get what the customer wants.

“People are settling down a bit because we are selling what we have,” Flanagan said. “People invest their money in cars and buy them blindly.”

Due to the high demand for new vehicles, inventory is sold before it even reaches dealerships.

Thirty percent of new vehicles at Nissan of Omaha sell before they arrive. According to Stewart Akrin, senior sales consultant at Baxter Subaru in Omaha, 90% of new stock sells out before it gets to the dealership.

According to Terry Csipkes, sales manager at Huber Automotive in Omaha, cars sold before they hit the lot represent 70% of their new inventory.

The national car shortage is not specific to new vehicles. Finding quality used vehicles for profit is difficult for dealers to find at auctions.

“It’s harder to find cars at auction because the prices are high,” Flanagan said. “They run the risk of selling them at a loss because they pay too much up front for them.”

Minnick said that $ 8,000 to $ 18,000 is the most popular price range for used car buyers, but due to inflated vehicle prices, it is difficult for them to find quality cars at auction on which they can make a profit.

According to Csipkes, Huber Automotive has had to buy most of its used cars at out-of-state online auctions, not knowing the extent of the quality of the vehicle it will receive when it arrives at its dealership.

Pandemic shortages are also affecting the repair side of the business.

Parts for Hyundai, Honda and Acura are the hardest to find, according to the Dingman Collision Center in Omaha. Employees have contacted dealers in other states looking for parts for vehicles they need to repair.

Baxter Subaru in Omaha is calling current customers to see if they will voluntarily give up their leases sooner. Because there is less new inventory, the used vehicle market has grown. Others, like Duteau and Nissan, are not actively calling but are open to buying vehicles from people looking to sell.

As new semiconductor chips begin to be manufactured, the three dealers see the current shortage of inventory starting to resolve by the end of this year and resolve completely by 2022 and 2023.

“We do our best every day,” said Minnick. “And sell what we have and what is in the system.”

© 2021 Le Bulletin de la Platte Nord. All rights reserved.

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