Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Inventory down at dealerships across state; car prices up

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BENTON, Ark.– One dealership in Benton says prior to the pandemic, they had 2,000 cars on the lot, now they only have 58.

“It’s strange to look at,” said Bill Veuleman, General Manager at Cambell Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Benton.

Vueleman has been in the car sales business for 33 years and never seen inventory so low.

“We always dreamed of selling all the cars in the lot but we never thought we’d do it under the terms and conditions we are under today,” Vueleman said.

He says the pandemic is to blame and isn’t sure if the lot will ever fill back up.

“The auto manufacturers quit ordering microprocessors. It’s the chip shortage– the great chip shortage of 20-21,” Vueleman said.

The high-tech vehicles can’t be made without the computer chips– as many of the chips went to cell phones and computers instead when people across the world began working from home during the pandemic.

“All of the manufacturers are having problems– some of them shut down for months at a time because they don’t have the chips to complete these automobiles,” Vueleman said. 

“The lot is desolate– within a week they’ve sold out of any of their inventory,” Ryan Fritz who was looking for car at the dealership said. 

Many of the car sales are now going virtual. According to Vueleman, as soon as the vehicle is released from the plant, it’s put on their website and sold.

“It’s hard– it’s hard– we had to go to a bunch of different dealerships to find one — we finally found one after about a month,” customer Carla White said. 

The average cost for a new car is up from last year. However, if you are looking to sell your used car, according to Kelly Blue Book, they’ve seen a 13 percent increase in used car prices. 

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