Vehicle inventories nationwide are in short supply, but this problem is creating WNY job opportunities

Western New York

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New York’s auto industry is hitting some bumps in the road as we are seeing a nationwide shortage of inventory, used car prices through the roof, and production cutbacks. But our unique location and eager workforce are providing a special advantage.

From coast-to-coast new cars are hard to find or they are on backorder.

“Dealers are not making the deals they used to make,” said Car Concepts Analyst Todd Turner.

“They are becoming basically order takers, customers are going in there, waiting for whatever car shows up, and they are rushing in to get it before someone else does.”

Todd Turner, an analyst for Car Concepts says, the shortages are leading to production cutbacks at the Big Three American automakers. But there are exceptions.

The General Motors Components plant in Lockport is looking to hire 100 new workers to supply parts for GM trucks and SUVs despite the pandemic.

“That business has really taken off coming out of the pandemic and we are working some overtime to try and keep up with that demand and we are looking to add to our workforce to keep up with that supply,” Lockport GM’s Chief Engineer Dan Hesch said.

Art Wheaton of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations said, “If you are making parts for trucks and big SUVs, they are selling like hotcakes. As soon as they are made they are sold.”

Art Wheaton is an automotive expert at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He says General Motors and Ford facilities in the Buffalo area are uniquely positioned to benefit from changes in the auto industry.

General Motors plants at Lockport and Tonawanda turn out parts used in trucks and large SUVs, which are in high demand.

“Our location close to Canada makes it easier for the distribution for us to have auto assembly plants in Canada that we can support,” added Wheaton.

And as the automakers find new sources of microchips, they could ramp up production and send the chips to their dealers to install the chips.

“Because they have the trucks built, but they don’t have the chips in them and they think that being able to install computer chips is something the dealerships could do,” said Wheaton.

The Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Association reports new car sales, excluding Chevrolet, were up 40-percent for the first half of the year. But keep in mind the Covid pandemic slammed all car sales, last year.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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