Car dealers face higher demand with short supply

Passerbys in front of a Chrysler dealership

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: A few minutes ago, General Motors reported making $1.3 billion in the last three months -- not bad. Auto sales in general have improved this year. In fact, for some models, there's a shortage of new cars. Reporter April Dembosky tells us how that happened.


April Dembosky: New car sales plummeted after the economic meltdown. They dropped by $6 million between 2007 and 2009. As a result, fewer cars are trickling down to used car lots, and the price of clunkers is going up. Auto industry economist Paul Taylor says that's pushing buyers back to new cars.

Paul Taylor: People who would normally buy a used car are now saying well it's not that much more to get the new one.

Trouble is manufacturers are coming up short on supply, especially when it comes to trucks and sport utility vehicles. When General Motors took the government's bailout money, it also took the recommendation to slash production and focus on smaller, fuel-efficient cars. But American consumers want their SUVs.

Gordon Stewart: There's been time where we've had people practically fist-fighting over Equinoxes.

That's Chevy's new mini SUV. Gordon Stewart sells them at his four Chevrolet dealerships in Georgia, Florida, and Michigan. He says rather than wait eight weeks for a new Equinox, customers are moving on.

Stewart: The first place they go is usually either Ford or Toyota.

But those companies are having supply issues of their own.

I'm April Dembosky for Marketplace.

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