Action 9

Action 9: Auto dealer inventories could mean big savings for consumers

Since 2021, cars have been in short supply, driving prices way up. July is the traditional start of the car buying season. That’s when many of the new models hit dealership lots.

For the first time in many months, experts say savvy shoppers may be able to get a deal on some wheels.

Twenty-two-year-old Jake Harper graduated from college and landed a job and now he’s glad he could seal the deal on his first new set of wheels.

“I was basically looking for the best price. You know, just coming out of college, I couldn’t afford much,” Harper said.

For the past two years, saving hasn’t been easy. Car dealerships nationwide have looked empty due to a shortage of semiconductors and other key components.

Scott Brewer is president of an automobile dealers’ association, which represents 200 car dealerships.

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For the first time in a long time, Brewer is encouraged by what he’s seeing on his lot. “It still does not look amazingly full, but it is more full than it has been in three and a half years,” he said.

Brewer says he gets a shipment of new vehicles several times a week. That provides an opportunity for consumers.

“It’s very important to a dealer to cycle through our inventory. So, once you see it and it’s here, come and get it,” Brewer explained.

Sridhar Tayur is a supply chain expert. He advises car buyers to do their homework because there may be room to negotiate. “So, something that consumers might not be doing normally is going on the web and checking what is the inventory’s days of supply it might not be how they think about it, but it might give them a sense of where there could be some negotiating power.”

Tayur believes dealers may be more willing to cut a deal on makes and models with more days of supply.

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He says Volvos have about 40 days of supply. Some Fords are at about 40 or 60 days, and Hondas are still in high demand with only 20 days of supply.

The lower the supply on hand, the less chance that the dealer will negotiate.

“They probably feel, look, it’s selling like hot cakes. (Laughs) I don’t see why I should give you a better deal,” Tayur said.

Here’s another way to save; Look for a used model. There are finally more available.

“Now because we’re getting more new cars in, it has put less pressure on the used-car market and so those prices have come down to a normal level,” Brewer explained.

Used car prices are down 4 percent over last year at this time, for an average of $27,000.

If you do want a specific new make and model, Brewer says pre-ordered cars are being delivered much faster, “The wait now is a week or two to a month. It’s not months.”

If you are interested in a specific car, you can do a web search for the make and model, and then the term “days of supply.” The higher the number, the more inventory and the more likely a salesperson will be willing to make a deal.

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