Fall in auto sales in the United States, blocked by a shortage of computer chips

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New vehicle sales in the United States fell in September as the global computer chip shortage worsened, closing factories and limiting selection of dealer lots

DETROIT – In a typical month before the pandemic, the Chevy dealership at Con Paulos in Jerome, Idaho, sold about 40 new vehicles. In September, it was only six. Now, there is nothing new in stock, and every car, truck, or SUV on order has been sold.

Last month, what happened at his concession about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of Boise repeated itself across the country as plant closures due to a growing global shortage. of computer chips have reduced shipments of new vehicles to the United States.

Forecasters expect September sales to fall about 25% from last year as chip shortages and other disruptions in parts supply have reduced selection of dealer lots and again raised prices to record levels. This has sent many frustrated consumers on the sidelines to wait for a shortage that has plagued the industry since late last year.

JD Power expects US automakers to have sold just over one million vehicles in September, for an annual sales rate of 12.2 million. This is 4 million lower than the annual rate for September of last year and 4.9 million lower than the rate for September 2019.

For the third quarter, JD Power expects sales to fall just over 13% from the same period a year ago.

Most automakers release monthly or quarterly sales figures on Friday.

“The September results show that there are simply not enough vehicles available to meet consumer demand,” said Thomas King, president of data and analytics at JD Power.

The average selling price of a new vehicle hit a record high of $ 42,802 last month, breaking the previous record of $ 41,528 set in August, JD Power said. The average price in the United States is up nearly 19% from a year ago, when it first hit $ 36,000, JD Power said. Increases in auto prices have helped push up inflation in the United States.

General Motors, hit hard by temporary plant closures in the last quarter, expressed some optimism, however. Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, said the computer chip shortage is improving.

The shortage and insanely high prices of new and used vehicles began with the outbreak of the pandemic last year, when many states issued stay-at-home orders. Prices fell and automakers shut down factories for eight weeks. The resulting drop in supply came just as many confined consumers wanted a new or used vehicle to get to work or take road trips without coming into contact with others.

While auto factories were closed in April and May of last year, computer chipmakers shifted production to meet wild demand for laptops, gaming devices and tablets. This has created a shortage of automotive-grade chips, an issue that may not be fully resolved until next year.

Due to the high prices, dealers large and small are seeing record profits, but Paulos fears those days are over. He pays the bills and makes money from used car sales, as well as service, because people keep their vehicles longer. He hopes the new auto shortage has bottomed out and says GM appears to be putting more factories back on line.

“We won’t have any inventory to show people here,” said Paulos. “If we don’t get supplies to dealers, the record profits we were making will turn into record losses, I’m afraid. It is difficult to keep up without a new flow.


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