The spread of COVID-19 has prompted the closure of numerous automobile manufacturing plants across the country, and the effect has been felt by many local car dealerships, including some in Brenham.
With production at plants either slowing significantly or coming to a complete halt, many dealerships have had to deal with reduced inventory shipments, giving prospective vehicle buyers fewer options to choose from.
Matt Kenjura, Inventory Manager for LaRoche Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac, said General Motors (GM) restarted production at its plants about three weeks ago, after being closed for two months. He said production was already behind after the GM labor strike in September and October of last year. He said the vehicle lot is currently down about four to five times from what it would normally be, and the dealership has had to put a stronger focus on used vehicle sales to make up for the lack of new vehicles coming in.
Kenjura is worried about the possible complications of another plant shutdown in the coming weeks, but said the current situation has already “put everybody in a pinch” in terms of product availability.
Meanwhile, Appel Ford Internet and Marketing Director George Borck said the dealership is fortunate to have stocked up on vehicles before issues with COVID-19 first came to Brenham, and as a result still has plenty of inventory. He added that, while sales struggled in March, the months of April, May, and June have all been very positive.
Similar to Appel Ford, Tegeler Toyota General Manager Russell Rogas said the existing stock of vehicles was fairly high—roughly 30 more than normal—when the pandemic hit in March. He said Toyota’s plants in the United States and Mexico are back open after being closed for about a month to six weeks, but overall inventory levels may be low heading into the fall.
Rogas said, however, that the dealership is still in “pretty good shape” when it comes to inventory. He said the demand has been high for both new and used vehicles, adding that while sales were poor in March, they rebounded in late April, were historically strong in May, and solid for June.