Car Market “Crazy”: Dealers Can’t Keep Up With Demand


Some customers stopped paying top dollar for new cars and chose to settle for older cars. This has increased demand for parts and service, one of the most profitable businesses for auto dealers. Many dealers have extended their repair shop hours. Mr Ricart said he hired repair technicians three or four days in a row for 10 or 12 hours before taking a few days off.

Of course, the vehicle shortage will end, but it is not clear when.

As Covid-19 cases and deaths surged last spring, automakers closed factories in North America from late March to mid-May. As their factories were closed and they expected sales to slowly come back, they ordered fewer semiconductors, the tiny brains that control engines, transmissions, touch screens, and many other components of modern cars and trucks.

At the same time, homeless consumers began to buy laptops, smartphones and game consoles, which increased the demand for chips from the companies that make these devices. When automakers restarted their plants, fewer chips were available.

Many automakers had to leave factories idle for a week or two in the first half of 2021. GM, Ford Engine and others resorted to manufacturing vehicles without specific components and keeping them in factories until the necessary parts arrived. At one point, GM had about 20,000 nearly complete vehicles waiting for electronic components. He started shipping them in June.

Ford has been hit harder than most other automakers by a fire at one of its suppliers’ factories in Japan. At the end of June, Ford had about 162,000 vehicles at dealerships, less than half the number it had just three months ago, and roughly a quarter of the stock its dealerships typically have.

This month Ford is slowing production at several North American plants due to a shortage of sawdust. The company said it plans to focus on completing the vehicles.

Mr. Ricart recently took a trip with his Harley-Davidson to Louisville, Ky., and took a look at the trucks and SUVs waiting to be completed at the Ford factory. He said he saw “thousands of trucks in fields with temporary fences around them.”


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