High demand for used cars leaves local dealerships struggling to fill lots

When new car production was halted at the start of the pandemic, it left new and used car dealerships searching for more inventory & paying steeper prices.

The pandemic has had effects on just about every aspect of life and business. Local car dealerships are no exception – supply has been low for weeks.

The auto industry has been deeply impacted by COVID–19.

“In about March, we saw our sales decline by about 70%, we usually sell about 100 cars a month but we probably dropped down to the 50s and 60s,” says Bob Knollenberg, owner of B&D Auto Sales.

“Right now we have approximately 40 cars on the lot. Normally we’d be running about 75 or 80,” says Tim Bunn, owner of Moxie Mitsubishi.

The dealers say its a trickle-down effect.

In the early stages of the pandemic, plants stopped new car production, which in turn increased demand.

“They weren’t shipping cars over, Mitsubishi from Japan and Kia was not shipping from Korea for months. Its been harder to get cars from both,” Bunn says.

“These new car dealers are buying all the cars up. The days of going into dealerships like I used to for 43 years are over,” says Knollenberg.

Limited supply means a bigger price tag for the dealerships, too. But that also means many dealerships are paying you more for your good used car.

“Well, bring it to me first,” says Knollenberg with a chuckle. “But if you can’t, the newspaper is a pretty good source.”

When it comes to buying a car, pricing varies in Lincoln. Some locations say the customer may have to pay more to offset new shipping costs, while other locations have maintained a steady price.

There is hope for the locally–owned businesses, however. After months of dipping sales, they’re starting to see an increase once again.

“Over the last three months we’ve rebounded to [selling] 80 almost 85 cars [per month],” Knollenberg says.

Bunn says his dealership is almost back to pre-pandemic numbers. “It makes me feel good.”

Categories: Consumer News, Lancaster, Nebraska News