HONOLULU (KHON2) — A global computer car ship shortage is limiting the number of new cars coming into the islands which is affecting selection for consumers, and dealers do not know when it will get better.

There are more empty slots where new vehicles should be parked, and people may not see their dream car. At least that was the case for Honolulu resident Marv Fernandez when he started car shopping a couple of months ago.

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“Now you look for a certain car, and there’s no stock,” Fernandez said. “Or there’s only like one left and that is not the car that you really wanted to buy.”

New cars are limited across the board due to a computer car chip shortage. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, car manufacturing plants closed and chip manufacturers pivoted to other products.

“The chip manufacturer said I got to sell these chips,” University of Hawaii Manoa School of Travel Industry Management Professor Dr. Jerry Agrusa said. “And they started to sell them to other entities, computers, video game companies, phones.”   

Servco Toyota General Manager Charles Lee said the automaker allots them a monthly number of cars. Still, inventory is much smaller than what it was pre-COVID pandemic.

“Inventory, I believe we have somewhere close to around the 2,000 normally,” Lee said. “And right now, we have in our inventory, that are actually sold or going to be sold, almost a thousand.”

The limited supply has also changed the way people buy new cars. More buyers are ordering custom cars and choosing the color and finish of their liking.

“Customers are online shopping,” Lee said. “Come on in to the showroom floor, and we can take an order for you. To order a vehicle specific to your needs and options and colors.”

Lee said customer orders can take about three to four months to be built and delivered.

While having to wait is not always ideal for buyers, at least they have a say in what they purchase and are not stuck with what is available on the lot.

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Fernandez said, “I understand COVID is here, I still got to be patient the car is coming either way.”