In a normal market, car dealers across New Jersey would have 200 to 1,000 cars on their lot.

Today, most dealers have 10% to 15% of that total in inventory, according to the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.

Supply of adequate vehicles is still far short of demand in the Garden State. And in some cases, the situation has worsened, as the U.S. continues to battle supply disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and fewer used vehicles hit the market because consumers are only trading them in if they can get the new car they desire in return.

"Of course all of this means less selection and higher prices for consumers," Jim Appleton, president of NJCAR, told New Jersey 101.5.

When demand is high — and it still is, just like earlier this year — there's not much room for negotiation when purchasing a vehicle, Appleton added.

Consumer Reports notes that used-car prices were up almost 32% in August compared to a year earlier.

Appleton cited "rolling pandemic-induced" car manufacturing shutdowns all over the globe. And a shortage of critical components, such as microchips for newer vehicles, is resulting in slower production of cars and trucks.

Appleton advises consumers to start their car-buying process ahead of crunch time — don't wait until your lease is up or your current vehicle is on its last legs.

He suggests dealers won't see inventory levels start balancing out until the third quarter of 2022.

"There are shortages of inventory, new car inventory, for every make and model," Appleton said. "And because so much of the supply of used cars comes directly from vehicles that consumers are trading in when they purchase a new car, the inventory of used vehicles is extremely low at this point in time."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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