Rising gas prices not yet affecting local car market

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 7:50 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Gas prices continue to rise. The price of oil-per-barrel was up to $110 on Wednesday. Local car dealers say the prices have yet to affect car sales but if prices keep rising that could change.

“The last time I saw gas prices really affect car sales was in 2008-2009, it seems like the magic number is around four dollars, so gas prices haven’t affected it as much as chip shortages, lack of new car inventory, and no new used inventor coming on to the market,” said Chuck Johns, owner of the Harrisonburg Auto Outlet.

Johns said in 2008 the car market was dramatically impacted as people looked for more fuel-efficient vehicles to keep up with the high gas prices.

“People started selling off all their large trucks, anything with a V8 in it, large SUVs. It became quite a frenzy and we saw hybrid prices almost double,” he said. “There was a six month to an 18 month period where an eight to $15,000 hybrid went up over 80 percent.”

Johns hopes it does not get to that level in 2022 but said that the way prices continue to rise it is possible.

“Hybrids have moved probably 10 percent within the last 60 days. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re talking 10 percent it’s a lot of money. You know a $15,000 car you’re talking about moving quite a bit, $1,500 plus,” he said.

Elsewhere, as the weather warms up, local bicycle shops are hopeful that the high gas prices will lead to more people cycling as a cheaper way to get around.

“As we come out of the winter and go into spring and summer, we will get much busier regardless of the gas price but hopefully the gas prices although they are bad, in some aspects may lead people to ride their bike to work which I think is a really good thing,” said Charlie Snyder, co-owner of Bluestone Bike & Run in Harrisonburg.

Snyder says the pandemic also drove up the demand for bicycles.

“There still is a huge bike boom because of the coronavirus. People have been looking for new ways to get outside and be social and exercise,” Snyder said. “So there was a huge increase in demand for bikes and that has been sustained and now we are actually unable to keep up with inventory, so there are some problems getting bikes.”

Snyder says supply chain issues have made it more difficult for Bluestone Bike & Run to keep high-end bike brands in stocks as most are pre-sold before they arrive at the shop.

“In the past, if you came in and asked for a specific kind of bike from a brand we carry, we could log on to their business portal and order the bike for you down to the color, size, and spec that you want. Now, that kind of inventory is almost none existent.

Snyder said he hasn’t yet seen an uptick in business specifically due to gas prices but as the weather warms that could change.

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