When the COVID19 pandemic started in March 2020, the auto industry was impacted greatly. All the major manufacturers canceled future orders for microchips which were needed to build vehicles for the 2021 model year. Customers going into the dealer to trade in their old vehicles also slowed which then created a problem for both the new and used auto market. As lockdowns lifted and confidence returned in the fall of 2020 demand came roaring back, but buyers quickly realized that the dealers' lots were empty and locating either new or used vehicles was difficult. This was also true across the country for dealers that sell wheelchair accessible vehicles built by BraunAbility, VMI, Rollx and many more.
There are several reasons why we have seen a record breaking rise in prices for the used vehicle market. Leased vehicles weren’t being returned and sales of new vehicles slowed which created less trade ins at the dealer. We also saw that rental agencies sold off their fleets at record numbers as travel came to a halt across the world. All of this impacted the supply and demand therefore manipulating the pricing. People looking to sell their used wheelchair van were able to get 20-30% more in value over the previous year for the same vehicle. Some sellers even saw a 40% increase in value which meant they were getting all their money back from what they originally paid. Retail values were soaring, and it was a sellers’ market. If you were a buyer, you noticed that the price for a used vehicle was only a few thousand dollars less than a new vehicle. Traditionally you could purchase a one- or two-year model with 20,000-30,000 miles and save $8,000-$10,000 over new. With supply being low and demand up we saw the gap close to only $2,000-$3,000… if you could even find it. By the time you consider the warranties and purchasing a service contract to match the warranty on the used to the new, you will find in 2022 you are paying almost the same for a used wheelchair van with a service contract as to what a new wheelchair van with factory warranties cost.
Available and ready to go wheelchair accessible vehicles were in short supply for all of 2021 across the country. If dealers had vehicles on the lot, it was unlikely you could get the exact brand, color, trim or features you wanted. In early 2021, the problem for new wheelchair accessible vehicles was compounded when many manufacturers had both supply chain issues complimented with labor shortages. This made for long lead times on the upfitting process. As with everything else, high demand but low supply cut down the available options therefore consumers end up settling on a vehicle that perhaps didn’t have everything they wanted.
We are still years away from inventory levels going back to pre-pandemic levels…if ever. After almost three calendar years manufacturers have adjusted to these new conditions and are making every effort to increase the volume of these vehicles. Thankfully, consumers will see inventory levels on new wheelchair vans increase in early 2022. However, do not expect to have all the colors and trim options available on the lot when you shop. Getting the exact vehicle color and options might mean that you will need to wait four months or more to order the exact vehicle you want. Nonetheless, this is an improvement from 2020 and 2021 when the option to order wasn't available no matter your budget.
Now more than ever the benefits of having a strong relationship with your local wheelchair accessible vehicle dealership are clear. When you work with your local dealer through regular preventative maintenance checks they can catch and solve potential problems that could have made you stranded waiting for parts. If you are in the market for a new mobility vehicle, early communication with your mobility consultant can ensure you have the ability to get the vehicle and options you desire through an extended lead time. For more information about your closest mobility dealership, or to get in touch with them, visit our Mobility Dealer page.