Buying a vehicle in Tampa Bay

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Auto dealers admit now is not the best time to buy a new car. New models are few and far between thanks to a global supply chain shortage.

A lack of microchips used in the manufacturing of vehicles is hamstringing car companies.

Automobile analytics company, Cox Automotive, projects 13 million new vehicle sales recorded in the U.S. last month. That is nearly three million less than November 2020.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Brian Dreggors, general manager of Imperial Motorcars in Pinellas Park, Florida, said. “It’s very challenging.”

Dreggors sells second-hand vehicles at Imperial Motorcars.

Fewer vehicles in the pipeline result in fewer vehicles on his lot.

“If you look out on the lot, we probably have about 15 cars on hand, right now, we usually have about 25 to 30,” Dreggors said.

Dreggors and other used car dealers rely on auctions from new car dealers for their vehicle inventory, but now the big guys are keeping valuable used vehicles for themselves.

“Everybody is just keeping any good cars they get ahold of,” Lou Taliercio, owner of Tampa Bay Auto Network, said.

Taliercio has less than half his stock on the showroom floor at his Ybor City dealership. He says the cars offered at auctions are not worth the upcharged prices for what they are buying.

“The selection is just no there,” he said.

Now, his preferred way of business is direct with the customer.

“Private sellers seek a place like us to sell their cars,” Taliercio said.

And for good reason.

According to Cox Automotive’s Manheim Index, the price of used car vehicles jumped nearly 45 percent, last month, from November 2020.

“They’re getting money they never dreamt of getting for their cars these days,” Taliercio said.

“Unfortunately we have to pass that pricing along to our own retailing price,” Dreggors said.

It is something Dreggors tells every buyer that walks onto his lot, or rolls up to his door with their own vehicle to sell.

Dregoors paid $500 over market value for used car buyer, Alex Combs’s 2011 Mazda, so his five-month search for his dream Jeep Wrangler could finally end.

“The market lately, I didn’t know that it was so out the roof,” Combs said. “I was lucky.”

Dreggors does not think the market for new vehicles will normalize until the end of 2022 or early 2023. He advises vehicle owners with cars one to two years old to consider selling their vehicles and cashing in if they can spare it.