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GM strike causing parts delays, shortages of select models on LI, dealers say

Sean King, vice president at King O'Rourke Auto

Sean King, vice president at King O'Rourke Auto Group of Smithtown, said some parts, including sheet metal used in body shop repairs, are in short supply because of the GM strike. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

General Motors dealers on Long Island are beginning to report shortages in select models and delays in the delivery of some parts as a strike against the automaker drags into its fourth week.

Patrick Cassino, owner and president of Sun Buick GMC Inc. in Wantagh, said the GMC Canyon, a brisk-selling mid-size pickup truck, and the Buick Enclave, a seven-passenger sport utility vehicle, are in short supply, but the dealership's large inventory is shielding it from a broader squeeze. 

"We're not feeling a pinch on most popular models," he said.

Sean King, vice president at King O'Rourke Auto Group of Smithtown, said GM has put nonunion workers in parts warehouses to ensure that dealers receive parts like oil and air filters used in routine maintenance.

But King said that some parts, including sheet metal used in body shop repairs, are in short supply.

Cassino said that special-order parts that typically arrive in as little as one day are taking an extra few days to arrive.

"The strike is adding a couple of days," he said. "For 90 percent of our service customers, it's a nonissue."

About 48,000 members of the United Auto Workers have been on strike at GM's North American facilities since Sept. 16. The walkout centers around issues of job security, health care and the transition of temporary workers to permanent status.

The introduction of at least one marquee GM product -- the Chevrolet 2020 Corvette Stingray -- will be delayed by the UAW strike, according to insiders cited by the Detroit Free Press.

Production of the mid-engine sports car was scheduled to begin late this year at an assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but the new model will require retooling at the plant, the sources said.

GM shares closed down 2.5 percent Tuesday to $33.89.

Joe Sergio, general sales manager at Chevrolet of Smithtown in St. James, said the dealership has an adequate supply of vehicles, though some parts are unavailable.

Prospective car buyers, however, seem unperturbed by the work stoppage, Sergio said.

"It doesn't even come up," he said. "Customers come in. It's not on their mind."

Cassino said auto dealers often have an added time cushion because many customers shop at the dealership when they still have several weeks left on their lease.

Still, if the walkout continues, the situation could become more urgent, Sergio said.

"It hasn't hit us, but we're on the cusp," he said. "Talk to me in a week or two."

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