MAINE, USA — A shortage of microchips used to build cars and other technology is what first started this slowing of inventory at car dealerships months ago. Now, employees at dealerships across the state and country said the problem has gone from bad to worse.
“I don’t think any of us really expected it to take effect in the way that it did. We kind of thought it would just be some option shortages and things like that, but not a complete vehicle shortage,” said Joe Quirk, General Manager of Quirk Chevrolet in Bangor.
The shortage has changed the entire process of buying a new car. With little to no options to view on the lot, customers have had to make decisions on their car based off a computer screen. Additionally, the special features that come with buying a new car seem to be limited these days.
“Say it takes thirty microchips to make a vehicle, but then if you want a heated steering wheel it might take five more. They’re not making the heated steering wheel because they’re taking those five (microchips) and producing another vehicle,” Quirk said.
“When people come in and they want a Tahoe, for example, but want heated seats, they might not be able to get that. So you can still get your Tahoe, but you just can’t get the particular options that you’re looking for.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly, General Manager of Downeast Toyota in Brewer, said his business is also struggling with a lack of inventory. He said the shortage is driving up prices of both new and used vehicles.
“Used car prices have gone up because there’s been a lower supply of them. So trade-ins are worth more now,” said Kelly.
So if someone in the market for a new ride, Quirk said people should act quickly.
“If we have a vehicle coming in in a couple weeks that is pretty close to what you’re looking for, if you don’t put a deposit down or buy that vehicle, then someone the next day or in the next couple of days will come in and buy it,” Quirk explained.
The general managers both think it could take up to a year before their businesses return to normal and their lots are full again.