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Local car dealers struggle with lack of inventory amid pandemic-related supply chain issues

Angel Russell
The showroom at Sunset Honda in San Luis Obispo.

Supply bottlenecks brought on from the pandemic continue to impact U.S. car sales. While it’s a competitive market to buy a new car, dealers say it’s a good time to sell a used car.

David Idell, sales manager at Sunset Honda in San Luis Obispo, told KCBX News a lack of computer chips has been plaguing the auto industry, forcing plants to shut down and delaying auto shipments.

“Ultimately that has led to, you know, I have maybe 20 cars available for sale right now," Idell said. "And normally, I have about 250 in stock.”

Idell said it's a problem for car dealerships nationwide.

He said while the inventory is low, the demand for buying a car is high, so buyers may notice prices are up for some new vehicles.

“We aren’t doing a big markup on all of our inventory like a lot of other dealers are doing," Idell said. "There are certain inventory that we have some markups on.”

Idell said with new cars arriving slowly, his dealership has focused on buying used cars.

He said it’s a seller's market right now.

“People who want to sell their vehicles, now is the best time to do it because with the shortage of new car inventory, the values on used cars have gone way up," Idell said. "It’s something I’ve never seen, and I have been in the car business for 18 years.”

Idell said car dealerships expect to feel this domino effect brought on from the pandemic for some time.

“I don’t have a crystal ball on it," Idell said. "But I’ve heard that we can expect to feel something like this all the way through 2023.”

Idell said there may not be many new cars to put those giant red bows on this season, so they’ll be putting them on their used cars this year instead.

“I got them! I’ve got them in the middle of our breakroom, I’ve got them in boxes," Idell said. "We’ll put some in the showroom in the next day or two.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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