More customers are testing online car sales

Car lots seem a little emptier these days, just ask John Koerner.

“We used to stock 1,300 to 1,500 new units in the field every day,” said Koerner, executive general manager of Healey Brothers dealerships. “Today, across our 11 brands, we use approximately 200 vehicles in the field day off.”

Supply chain issues have caused these shortages, while demand for vehicles has skyrocketed. And that dramatic difference is being felt by dealers and customers across the country, including at Healey Brothers Ford in Goshen.

What do you want to know

  • Supply chain issues affect a variety of industries, including car dealerships
  • A shortage of computer chips for new vehicles has made it harder for dealers to keep up with growing demand for cars
  • AP says auto sales in 2021 are up more than 3% from 2020

Koerner said the seller’s market has completely changed the way people buy cars.

“It’s taken the experience of buying a car from a showroom to another where you can basically do the whole process online,” he said. “So now they walk in or they go online, and they specify the vehicle they want, and we actually order that vehicle from the factory for them.

Demand for new vehicles rebounded after sales plummeted at the start of the pandemic.

“Discretionary income spending hasn’t unfolded as it normally would,” Koerner said. “People still had money in the bank when the economy started to pick up and now they’re looking at the vehicles that are out there today.”

And it’s the smaller part of vehicles that’s causing this disruption, as problems getting computer chips into cars has been the driving factor behind this supply shortage.

“When COVID arrived, manufacturers didn’t think the rebound was going to be as quick as it was,” Koerner said. “But when the industry came back faster than expected, chipmakers were unable to provide them with the chips that were needed.

Koerner said he expects this trend to continue. They will therefore have to continue to adapt to it.

“Our industry is going to be in a high demand market, at least for the next 18 to 24 months,” he said.