When searching for used-vehicle inventory through wholesale avenues, Ricart Automotive Group would typically cast a net about 200 miles in any direction from its Columbus, Ohio, base. That meant finding cars as far away as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis or Detroit.
But the scarcity of attractive used vehicles has caused the group to use a bigger net. Its search area now has a radius of 400 miles — stretching potentially to Philadelphia; Raleigh, N.C.; Nashville; and St. Louis.
"That's what you've got to do to find the vehicles that you know your customers like to buy," said CEO Rhett Ricart.
When the pandemic and the ensuing chip shortage reduced new-vehicle supply, many consumers switched from new to used models and snapped up the best inventory. Now, the supply of used models remains constrained, both by the loss of production in recent years and by the reduction in leasing as a share of that smaller market.
In response, dealers are getting creative to find the inventory they need. In some cases, they're even scaling back used-vehicle operations to match the current state of the market.