As chip shortage goes on, cars are scarce and prices are up

DETROIT — For the next few months, Charlie Gilchrist figures his 11 car dealerships in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will sell just about every new vehicle they can get from the factories — and at increased prices.

In normal times, that would be cause for joy. Not so much now. A global shortage of computer chips has forced automakers to slash production. The result has been far fewer vehicles on dealer lots, just as the waning pandemic has fueled a pent-up consumer demand for cars, trucks and SUVs.

Given the robust customer demand, dealers like Gilchrist could sell many more cars and trucks, if only they had more. Even at elevated prices — the average new-vehicle sales price tops $40,000, up nearly 10% in two years — customer demand exceeds supply.

“It’s pretty evident when you pull onto our lots that there’s not much selection,” said Gilchrist, whose lots carry brands ranging from General Motors and Ford to Nissan and Volkswagen. “Our (sales) volume is falling because of the sheer lack of inventory. It will still fall during the next two or three months.”