Local car dealerships still feeling COVID-19’s impact; how it affects customers

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The auto industry continues clawing its way back to normalcy despite challenges involving a microchip shortage and decreased supply.

Thanks to COVID-19, many dealerships were forced to either shut down, send employees home, operate on a limited basis, or all of the above.

Also happening during that time, dealerships faced shortages of new cars after plants shuttered their doors and stopped producing. That was one of the factors that led to a shortage in microchips, a crucial part of a vehicle.

“A chip is the tool within the computer of the vehicle which allows it to start, which allows your key fob to be able to communicate with your car, things of that nature,” said Marketing Director for Perkins Motors Inc. Kenn Gibson.

As new cars started to dwindle, used cars sales began to soar. But even that presented challenges.

“The truck drivers were under some strict guidelines, the auction houses were under strict guidelines,” owner of Big Joe Auto, Joe McCloskey explained.

As the newer car market struggled, people began eyeing used cars and finding vehicles that suited their needs.

“There was also, I think, a refocus of what they wanted to do in their lives,” McCloskey said. “We saw a big surge in four-wheel drive, SUV’s, 4×4’s, trucks.”

As some of the pandemic’s effects fade, some dealerships say used and new car sales are starting to even out.

“Overall, sales ratio is about 50 percent,” Gibson said. “So it’s a pretty good mix.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean your perfect car will be waiting for you in the lot. Finding “the one” might take a little more effort than in the past.

“We can’t go find five different colors of the same vehicle,” Gibson told FOX21 News. “We can go and we can find one, maybe two. You can find a blue, you can find a white, you can find a black, different trim lines, but the variety doesn’t exist today at the dealership the way we’re used to.”

Car experts suggest researching before visiting a lot as it can provide realistic expectations and help you narrow down what you want in your next ride.

As far as the microchip shortage goes, only time will tell how long it’s going to last and whether used car sales will remain higher than in the past.

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