The global chip shortage has slashed vehicle inventories and left dealers with few cars to sell. It has also left car salesmen and women with less to do on the dealership lot.
Dealerships laid off thousands of salespeople at the start of the pandemic. While some have been rehired, about 70,000 people who worked at new-car dealerships have been permanently let go.
For those who remain, the job has been transformed both by pandemic restrictions and an accelerated shift to online buying. Salespeople who once spent days prowling dealership lots offering test drives now wrangle online leads and explain the chip shortage to frustrated customers.
The world’s supply chain woes are bearing down on U.S. auto garages.
The challenge of finding spare parts as mundane as oil filters or carpeting has forced repair shops to hoard inventory, find workarounds and plead with customers for patience until a shipment comes in.
Typical delays of a day or two have stretched into weeks in some cases, shop owners say. It’s a self-feeding loop. A global semiconductor shortage has cut the production of new vehicles, leading to a surge in demand and prices of used cars and forcing people to keep their old ones longer. In turn, these vehicles need repairs, which are now increasingly being dragged by supply-chain snarls.
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