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Chip shortages affecting local dealerships, customers

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet salesman Steve Jakubcin places a sold sign in a new truck on Friday. Car dealerships in the area have struggled to fill their inventories because of a global computer chip shortage. Vehicles are sold as quickly as they arrive and often never are put on display.

ALPENA — Car dealerships continue to struggle to fill their inventories, as a semiconductor chip shortage wreaks havoc on the businesses, and customers who wait weeks to receive a vehicle of their choosing.

A semiconductor chip is a tiny transistor made from silicon. They allow computers, smart phones, appliances and other electrical devices to function.

The shortage is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased demand for the personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops that the chips are used in, to the point where production could not keep pace with demand.

The display lots and showrooms at dealerships in Northeast Michigan lack the cars and trucks they do typically, but staff continues to do its best to locate vehicles, and connect them to customers seeking them, CNBC reported.

Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet owner Bruce Anschuetz said the demand for vehicles, especially trucks, is high, and right now, there is little to choose from on site. He said the store received eight to 10 new vehicles this week, and most of them were sold to people on a waiting list.

Still, he said, things aren’t as dire as a few weeks ago, when there were no new trucks available.

“The cars are all built, and they are just waiting to get the chips put in them, so it really is out of our hands,” Anschuetz said. “We’re starting to get some cars in every day, but they are selling so quickly they don’t make it out on the lot. If someone comes into the store today, and orders a new truck, they will have to wait about a month to a month and a half for it to come in.”

Doreen Hamilton, of Hubbard Lake, said she has been considering leasing a new truck for years and is ready to do so now.

The problem, she said, is she has been unable to find the type of car she wants, test drive it, and negotiate a fair price.

“It’s not the end of the world, but it is a little frustrating,” she said. “I have held off on getting a new car, and now that I’m ready I have to wait for what I want. I won’t buy one without test driving it first, so right now, I’m just waiting until I see something on the lot I like.”

Dean Arbour Ford in Alpena also has a lot that displays far fewer vehicles than normal. Salesman Steve Vam said the store hasn’t had a new truck delivered in two months, and little is known when some will arrive.

Vam said the issue isn’t demand related or from the staffing shortages around the country, but tied directly to the lack of chips needed to run the vehicles.

“We have no idea when things will begin to get better,” he said. “I think it is going to drag on, because the entire industry is only being allotted so many chips. I wish I knew when the new trucks would begin to show up, but honestly, I don’t know.”

Anschuetz said the issue is getting better every day, and he suspects shorter wait times are on the horizon.

The demand for new vehicles has also impacted the amount of used cars available. Anschuetz said because there are fewer new cars and trucks available, there are fewer trade-ins. He said some people choose not to wait to purchase or lease a new model, and settle for a slightly used one.

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