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Consumers, dealerships impacted by shortage of cars, parts

HOUSTON – Inventory at Houston-area car and truck dealerships is historically low, at least according to anecdotal evidence from several local dealerships.

“I’ve been here 53 years and I’ve really never seen anything like this,” said Alan Helfman, the president of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep.

Helfman said the worldwide microprocessor shortage, chips that are used in a big variety of consumer products, is having a very real effect on inventory levels.

“There aren’t enough computer chips to provide for a full build of cars, so right now got some but want this equipment that equipment you almost have to order them,” he said.

Helfman’s business remains strong; because demand is outpacing supply, cars and trucks are selling for more, typically.

The issue has also elevated the price of used cars, as consumers search for reliable vehicles as they prepare to return to work following months of staying at home.

Rental car companies are also facing shortages.

On a recent day in June, Enterprise had no cars to rent in the Houston area, outside of airport locations.

“The microprocessor problem, parts problem, logistics problem, I think the bigger problem is not ‘do I want to keep my car maintained, it’s can I,” said Dan Parsons, President of The Houston Business Bureau.

Parsons notes that dealers are also facing issues getting parts delivered in a timely manner, and mechanics are backed up with commuters trying to get their cars back in shape.

“We are a little backed up, so be patient with us and we’ll get it done for you,” said Junior Bekdely, owner of Redline Autosports in southwest Houston.

Bekdely’s bays were full Friday. Demand still outpaces supply and workforce power in several industries, because of the pandemic.

“I think we should be getting more to how it used to be by the beginning of next year,” Helfman said.