Computer chip shortage amid COVID-19 pandemic leads to low car inventory

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Auto manufacturers can’t buy all the computer chips they need, so the supply of vehicles is tightening.

“It’s not really that they are producing less chips,” says Karl Brauer from the automotive website iSeeCars, “it’s that there are more reasons to produce chips now or more demand for chips.”

Fewer chips means fewer vehicles — new and used — but that doesn’t mean you can’t find the vehicle you want.

“I never thought I would have a luxury vehicle in my life and I walked away with my dream car,” says Lilith Lerma of Antioch.

She thinks the pandemic has made buying a car easier.

“The whole process was fast and seamless,” she says, “and probably the best buying experience I’ve ever had.”

She’s not the only one with a pleasant pandemic buying experience.

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Bill Miller is from Pinole. He went looking for a car, found one he liked, and by the time he started negotiating, the price had dropped.

“Ford had lowered, and I don’t understand why they lowered it because they don’t have inventory, but they had lowered the price on the 2020s by some $5000 difference,” he says.

Bill had wanted a 2021 model year, but says there weren’t many to choose from in his area.

There are ways around the shortage. Mike Patel is the principal owner of Fremont Ford.

“We would like to have more cars, but we have a lot of incoming vehicles too,” Patel says, “and we are pre-selling a lot of stuff, that normally would already be here but people are willing to wait to get what they want.”

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Fremont Ford’s General Manager, Michael Pollom, says it is an easy process, “If we don’t have the vehicle they want we look at the list of what is coming in.”

If you have a trade-in, there’s more good news. Because there are fewer new cars to buy, used cars are worth more.

That is tough on buyers, but good for those trading-in.

“They are worth more than they have ever been,” Patrel says, “There was not a time I remember when prices have been higher.”

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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