Hurricane season adds challenges to car dealerships, customers Pennsylvania News

EMMAUS, Pa. The pandemic has been a challenging time for buying and leasing cars. With continued supply chain issues and now hurricane season, the process is becoming even more difficult.

“Whether it was Hurricane Ida that hit us a few weeks ago or the wildfires in the West, most people don’t know, but those incidents are claiming a lot of vehicles,” said Andrew Wright, managing partner at the Vinart dealership.

Natural disasters have wiped out entire fleets of vehicles, making the past few months even more challenging for dealerships in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey, which are already hit by the pandemic.

“The chip shortage with all the other disruptions in production as well as logistics, shipping and transportation, it’s the perfect storm,” Wright said.

This happens because people who lost their cars in the flood are looking for vehicles as soon as possible.

For the family-owned Winart dealership in Emmaus, new-car inventory is around 10%, while used-car inventory is closer to 35 to 50%.

It hasn’t put the brakes on all businesses, but it has certainly changed how it’s done.

“We still delivered as many as a group 543 cars last month, so what’s happening is we’re selling in our pipeline, because the cars are coming in, people are picking up,” Wright said.

Vehicles on and off barren lots in a flash.

Given the COVID situation and restrictions in the countries they are coming from, some brands are being produced faster than others.

People are investing money on vehicles which will not be delivered till next year. When they do finally arrive, instead of receiving two sets of keys, some drivers end up sending another one in the mail due to a lack of parts.

There is also a long wait for repair and maintenance due to shortage of spares.

“Things as simple as an oil filter are in short supply,” Wright said.

Winart is giving customers notice of leasing months in advance, which would normally give them time to plan.

“Our traditional lease retention process will begin in six months,” Wright said. “We could be nine, twelve, even fifteen months out, just to tell people, ‘Hey these are the market conditions. You can start thinking about your next car.'”

Trade-in prices remain higher than ever.

Wright said, “If you have a vehicle that you currently own that you are thinking about trading or you are on the fence about trading, there has never been a better time with used car values. ” “As I tell people anytime, if there’s any doubt, trade in your car.”

Some experts are of the view that the supply situation will not improve until mid-2022, but the situation remains stable.

Vinart recommends starting your search for a new vehicle at least three months in advance.

“If you’re thinking about a new car in your future by the end of this year, you want to start thinking about it now and start your buying process now,” Wright said.

Vinart has 373 employees, and operates Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche franchises, as well as a collision center.

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