Why we’re seeing slim pickings on used car lots

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re looking to buy a car, you may have a tough time. Michigan is seeing a shortage of used cars of all makes, models and price points.

“This is our pre-owned inventory. Traditionally we have the slots filled up with inventory,” Eric Mock with Betten Imports said as he pointed out empty spaces on the lot along 28th Street in Cascade Township.

Mock said Betten Imports still has between 40 and 50 preowned cars ready for purchase but there are normally well over 100.

Betten Imports isn’t alone. All over Michigan, used car dealership lots are looking sparse.

Mock says it’s because of a few factors, including pent up demand from when dealerships were closed because of coronavirus.

Second, people aren’t spending money on vacations so they are spending money on things like cars.

The third factor is leases. During the coronavirus pandemic, drivers with leases can get extensions free of charge, so the cars that dealerships were depending on to sell aren’t available.

Mock’s advice to buyers is that if you find something that you like, move quickly so you can get it before someone else does. Cars that typically sell within 90 days are now moving in fewer than 30.

The prices have increased by 15% to 20% depending on the vehicle  but special interest rates are being offered to help offset that.

“I’ve been selling Mercedes-Benz since 1995 and I’ve never seen it like this in my whole career,” Mock said.

Dealerships say the shortage will end once the pandemic is under control and dealerships can remain open without fear of being forced to shut down again.