The chip shortage is so acute that in late October, Toyota announced it would give new car buyers just one smart key instead of two in a bid to ration semiconductors.
“It’s been really frustrating for our dealers to get good information for the customers, too, because the manufacturers are literally living hand to mouth with these components and sometimes the information isn’t nearly as accurate or robust,” Wood says. “And that makes it very difficult for a dealership to keep the consumer informed of what the status of their vehicle actually is.”
One Edmonton dealership said in normal times more than 100 vehicles would land on its lot each month. Now it’s only getting 15 in the same time frame, and the staff never quite know how many might show up.
“If a car carrier showed up with eight vehicles on it, seven of them were probably pre-sold,” Wood says. “There just hasn’t been any stock.”
The limited supply of new vehicles has also pushed up prices in the used vehicle market, which was good for people looking to sell or trade in their vehicles, but painful for those looking to buy a used car.
Canadian sales figures for 2022 are expected to be down 15 per cent year over year, Wood says. Now, dealers are closely watching rising lending rates, which will impact sales as it becomes more expensive to finance a car.
“Softening of consumer demand is never good,” Wood says. “That always makes folks a little sleepless.”
For those hoping for a less suspenseful car buying experience, Wood sees hope on the horizon.