Joplin car dealership works with low inventory as chip-shortage wears on industry

Analysts anticipate supply shortages and high prices to continue until 2023.
Gmc Truck At Skyway Buick Gmc In Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. – Shoppers looking for a good deal, or even decent deal, on a new vehicle over Labor Day weekend may have been disappointed once they got to dealership lots.

“Normally this time of year there’s large rebates to help you move inventory. But the manufacturers don’t have to put those big rebates on them right now because inventory’s so slim,” says Moony Starr, Chief Operating Officer of Skyway Auto Group.

On Monday, there were only nine new vehicles on the sales lot at Skyway Buick GMC in Joplin, when they would normally have between 40 and 50.

“I never see lots completely full of new cars again. Because they [manufacturers] make more money with less cars on the ground,” says Starr.

Parts shortages for new vehicles continue to plague the industry, with the Associated Press reporting several Asian countries that house the main producers of semi-conductors being hit hard with the COVID-19 delta variant. Because of the parts shortfall, General Motors and Ford have both announced one to two-week closures of their manufacturing plants. Toyota has announced last month that they would be scaling back production by at least 40% in Japan and North America for two months.

Analysts say the high prices and low inventories will more than likely last until 2023.

“The biggest challenge that we have is losing customers who’ve purchased from here over the years. They want another truck or a Buick Envision or whatever it might be… we can’t get it,” says Starr. “We want to sell to you. It’s not that we don’t want to, we can’t get it. And there’s no dealer trading because if they have it, they’re gonna keep it and sell it, and vice versa.”

“I ordered one not too long ago, and we were supposed to have it in the beginning of August and it came in around the end,” says Cody Jackson, a salesman at Skyway Buick GMC. “The customer was a little frustrated at us, and there was just nothing we could do.”

So Skyway — and other dealers — are relying on preowned vehicles. But Starr anticipates the supply of used vehicles could go down, especially in the coming months, after Hurricane Ida destroys hundreds of vehicles.

“There’s rental companies that put a lot of cars out on the streets. Say our guy that we buy from is out of Springfield. They’re not gonna have any. They’re gonna ship em all to Louisiana,” says Starr. “Prices are gonna go out the roof, and they’re gonna be slimmer than they have been.”

So what can you do if you have to buy a new vehicle? Starr says to look at the window sticker for any added charges that you can negotiate, and don’t feel like you have to purchase a new vehicle that’s over MSRP.

“Yeah, you’re paying more for your car right now when the market’s up, but who knows the future? This could be the future,” says Starr.

According to Black Book, used vehicle prices on average have climbed 30 percent in the last year.