Chain Reaction: No end in sight for supply chain issues in auto industry

Chain Reaction: No end in sight for supply chain issues in auto industry

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- If you’re looking to buy or fix your car this holiday season… be prepared to play the waiting game!

For a year and a half now, computer chip shortages have been plaguing the auto industry meaning fewer new cars are being made.

There’s also labor and parts shortages meaning getting used cars repaired can take months and local car shops are feeling the strain.

Depending on what car you’re looking for – new, used, s-u-v, or maybe electric – supply chain woes are slowing the car buying process in part because of low inventory.

The show room at Basney BMW in South Bend should be full of new cars. But there’s just one… oh, and it’s sold!

The cars you see lined up on 933 outside of the dealership should be the latest 2022 BMW models. General Manager Chad Hurley says what you see is actually all used cars.

“Right now, we currently have 3 [new] cars in stock and normally we have about 40. So that’s how low we are,” Hurley said. “Never seen anything like this in the 21 years I’ve been doing this.”

Hurley says cars are also selling faster than they ever have before thanks to low inventory. Customers just have to wait a little longer in most cases to find what they're looking for when car shopping. 

“When we do get a shipment of new cars, generally they come in and they’re sold within a few days,” Hurley said. “Chip shortage is definitely a factor in all this it has been for some time now. But there’s also other shortages. I mean there’s plastic shortages, glass shortages.”

It’s all thanks to you guessed it – the supply chain!

Because of the chip shortage, BMW announced in November it’s ditching touchscreens in some newer model cars. Cars will still have display screens but the carmaker is yet to schedule a timeline for when the touchscreen functions will return.

With less new cars available, more folks are getting their current cars repaired. That’s placing a heavier burden on the auto parts industry.

 “Customers are coming in to get their cars fixed and we are having trouble getting parts,” Hurley said.

Hurley says it’s taking weeks to get certain car parts shipped like brake pads and other specialized parts. In some cases, customers are even waiting months.

“Tiffany: What was it like before the pandemic to order car parts, versus today?”

“Chad: Drastically different that’s for sure. We would be able to get a part in 24 to 48 hours and now it’s generally not the case at all.”

So, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for supply chain problems in the auto industry?

“I think it’s going to be a little bit of time before see any kind of relief.”

Definitely not this year and maybe not the next. So, if you’re car shopping….

“Once you find the car you want or one that will fit your needs, definitely buy it because if you want to think about it for a few days certainly that car is going to be gone,” Hurley said.

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