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Vehicle microchip shortage slowing intake at Northwoods dealerships

Story By Morgan Johnson
Local News Published 10/15/2021 4:33PM, Last Updated 10/15/2021 6:53PM
Rhinelander - Almost every new car nowadays has a microchip. It acts as the brain of the vehicle. But the pandemic shut down microchip manufacturers, affecting car dealerships across the nation.

The sales manager at OK Used Cars of Rhinelander, Chuck Doemel, says it's the case for pretty much every car dealership.

It's something Doemel hasn't seen--ever.

"Been in the car business for a little over 20 [years], and this is the worst I've ever seen it as far as having cars on the lot," said Doemel.

When the pandemic hit, production halted--and left dealerships on hold. Car manufacturers are still producing, but their microchip counterparts are not.

"They're having issues getting the chips to send the cars out, so a lot of the manufacturers were building cars that just sit in a field. They're not able to get them to the dealership to sell them because they don't have the chips in them."

And the few dealerships that have been getting microchips aren't in the Northwoods -- which Doemel says sits low on the pecking order.

"We get a couple cars where some of your bigger stores down south in the big cities are getting a few more cars because they're a higher- producing store."

It's not all bad news, though. Demand has remained steady...and cars are selling fast. Places like the Marthaler dealership in Minocqua are having a hard time keeping up.

"It brings about a new challenge that a lot of people have never-- no one's really dealt with before," said owner Mark Biesterfeld.

To cope, Biesterfeld has been purchasing used cars from coast to coast. Sales are up 26% at Biesterfeld's dealership, so he's taking the good with the bad.

"We currently have one brand-new vehicle in stock available for sale," said Biesterfeld. "We have got 45 inbound that are sold already, and that's kind of the world that we live in now."

Biesterfeld doesn't have a solution to the problem, but he anticipates the trend will continue well into next year.
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