I don’t know if this adds up to material for one of your columns but here you go if you want it. I am shopping for a new WRX wagon. These are pretty rare around here, hunted to extinction. I’ve been checking around and the number in inventory at the typical dealership is between zero and two. The local dealership wants to charge me MSRP, as well they might, but they have a new narrative to go with this: the factory was shut down in Fuji and there’s going to be a gap in deliveries. Is this hooey?
How much do you want to bet that ride’s been sitting in inventory–waiting for someone gobsmacked by it’s allure–before the tsunami? It’s possible, maybe even probable. And that is the “problem” with cars like the WRX, dealers know you want one. And they got you by the short hairs.
Much to my dismay, the Marketing to Fear is back in full force. I’ve seen Japanese car dealers insist prices are going up, so buy NOW before the new inventory goes up in price. And many a dealer with fuel efficient models run ads encouraging you to trade your gas guzzler and get a 35 to 40+MPG compact, before your trade-in value tanks and tiny cars skyrocket in demand. That’s so nice of them, what a great community service they’re offering!
That points to a bigger problem with dealer service: inconsistency. One person can ruin a decades long reputation for quality, transparency and honesty at a “good” dealership. Employee turnover is high in this business for a reason. But perhaps my Texas centric thought is off base, so let’s get an International Man on the case.
Bertel Schmitt Answers:
Any real supply problems should start in the coming weeks, as no car carriers had left Japanese port after 3/14. But I guess they charge what they can, knowing that there won’t be any cars for quite some while. Japan will lose at least a full month of production. Then, they’ll make the big sellers, the niche cars will fall by the wayside. Or not, it all depends on parts availability.
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