Loyalty coupons already have cut into the inventories of General Motors dealers, and the ongoing UAW strike against GM will further diminish dealer stocks.
'We'll run out of certain models, sure,' said Ken Nieman, owner of City Chevrolet-Volkswagen in San Diego. 'It's going to be a problem, but it's certainly not a problem we can't handle,' he said.
Nieman said he supports GM's stance in the strike, and believes the automaker's cost-cutting attempt will help dealers in the long run. 'If we suffer a little right now, it's temporary,' he said.
GM's loyalty coupons, good through June 30, have run down inventories at Nieman's dealership, as well as at Grabiak Chevrolet in New Alexandria, Pa., and Jim Muir Oldsmobile-GMC in Sterling Heights, Mich.
'There's just a shortage now because we're in a selling frenzy,' said Doree Hodges, sales manager at Jim Muir. 'You aren't going to see anything (from the strike) yet,' she said.
The only immediate problem Hodges foresees is handling customers with loyalty coupons. GM already is pushing back build dates for some vehicles from late June into July, so customers who expected to use their coupons for those vehicles once the vehicles were in stock will not be able to use them.
Said Hodges: 'The sad thing is we get to be the bearer of bad news for the customers.'
There could be a used-car effect, too. Chris Grabiak, general manager and co-owner of Grabiak Chevrolet, said the loyalty coupons, combined with anticipation of the strike, might be pushing up the wholesale values of off-lease GM vehicles at auction. The reason: Dealers are trying to boost their inventories and prepare for possible strike shortages.