Trouble finding a new car? Microchip shortage could be the cause

Local News

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Another shortage could affect what you drive. Computer chips are in short supply, which affects just about everything with electronic components, including cars.

Paddock Chevrolet’s overflow lot in the Town of Tonawanda is usually full of cars, but on this occasion, there is not a car in sight.

A shortage of microprocessors is affecting American consumers in many ways.

“They go into cellphones, they go into laptops, they go into computers, they go into cars, and it is the cars and trucks that are giving everybody a lot of heartburn in the United States,” said Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ Arthur Wheaton.

Art Wheaton of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations says the bottleneck is causing U.S. carmakers to devise novel ways of keeping their assembly lines rolling.. such as partially assembling their vehicles.

“They will build the rest of the vehicle–minus the chips–park it on a parking lot, and when the chips come in they put them in and they send them to the dealers,” added Wheaton.

Empty car lots might be bad optics for new car dealers.. but optics aside, their new cars are being sold before they even reach the lot.

“I’ve had the best year of my history, in my whole life. I’ve had the best year financially,” noted New Car Dealer Stephen Wade.

On the other hand, with a shortage of new cars, the demand for used cars is up, and so is their value although the higher price might get lost when the owner wants to trade up.

How soon before auto plants in Western New York are affected?

Art Wheaton suspects some impact is already being felt, but local manufacturers such as GM Powertrain in Tonawanda have some flexibility.

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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