INNISFAIL — New vehicles aren’t as plentiful as they used to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but customers have adapted and are willing to order them if necessary, Fourlane Ford assistant general manager Jeffrey Verhaeghe says.
During an interview, Verhaeghe said when the pandemic began, vehicle production plants were shut down for about three months, thus constricting supply.
He said since then, production has roared back far faster than most experts forecast. However, shortages remain, and a shortage of microchips for computerized components has compounded the problem.
However, Verhaeghe said supplies of new vehicles are getting better.
"I wouldn’t say that we’ve got enough stock. I’ve got what looks like a football field out back. But I have some inventory for those instances (when) somebody is in need of something. And there’s stuff steadily incoming,” he said.
“It leaves just about as quick as it comes, so it just – to the passer-by it looks like nothing is changing, but stuff comes in, stuff leaves, you just don’t build up anything on actual shelves."
As a result he said, customers are now more willing to look at ordering a new vehicle, due to the shortage.
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Used vehicles are also in short supply.
"It’s a supply and demand issue, where when the vehicles’ manufacturers had quit building new ones, then people were buying some used ones, which depleted your used inventory,” Verhaeghe said.
He pointed out that many used vehicles are being shipped to the U.S. “because this is a global pandemic, not regional.”
Another problem is that due to the cutback on vehicle production, fewer vehicles are going to rental companies, which used to rotate their stock every six or eight months.
"You used to be able to get a decent supply of used vehicles through that market where now, that’s not the case,” he said.
The Innisfail company’s parts department is suffering from supply chain issues too, although that situation is weirder.
Verhaeghe said while some parts have been hard to get, others have been relatively easy to obtain. And what’s available and what’s not is often surprising.
“I mean there’s some where it’s electronic components that you thought you probably wouldn’t be able to get and they show up, no problem,” he said.
“An accessory that you wouldn’t think would be a problem, all of a sudden it’s (not available),” he added, citing mud flaps or vehicle covers as examples.
“A lot of it is starting to work its way through now. So the parts supply stuff is getting better.”
Verhaeghe has been impressed with how customers have reacted to the supply chain problems.
“You know what? Most people at this point, I can honestly say have been fantastic in the understanding,” he said.
“This hasn’t just hit auto manufacturers so people are way more understanding, because it doesn’t matter.
"You know, (if) you go to the electronics store to buy a television or the shelves at the Canadian Tire, the hardware store, there’s certain things that just aren’t available as quickly. So people are way more understanding and patient when it’s affected in more than just one area of their lives.”