Are New Car Delivery Times Back To Normal?

It’s now well reported and widely known that the car industry struggled to achieve adequate supplies of crucial semiconductors (some new cars require up to 3000 of them) in the wake of the pandemic. And this desperately slowed production and hampered delivery of new cars to customers.

Component supplies were further hit hard as the War in Ukraine took hold. In the last couple of years, anyone wanting to buy a brand-new car, found themselves in for a long wait. A very long wait.

Manufacturers typically quoted delivery times of up to 18 months or more, and extended waiting lists put some prospective buyers off altogether. So, have things improved?

Car Production and Sales Finally on the up

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) earlier this month revealed that in April, the UK new car market had experienced a record ninth consecutive month of growth.

With 132,990 new car registrations in April, an 11.6% year-on-year increase was registered, with petrol car sales up 4.1%, hybrid car sales up 14.3%, plug-in hybrids rising 33.3% and electric cars up an extraordinary 59.1%. Although that represented about 20,000 EVs compared to nearly 57,000 petrol cars. Diesel-powered cars were the only fuel type that declined, down 13.4%.

These figures have come on the back of UK car production also seeing an increase in the first quarter of this year, up by 6% to nearly 220,000 units - directly as a result of component supply shortages starting to ease.

Unsurprisingly even the used car market has rallied with a knock-on impact on supplies and stock in the trade. 2023 saw the best start of a year since 2020, although the market still remains below pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless first quarter used car transactions reached 1.8 million, up 4.1% from last year.

All of this bodes well for the industry as a whole, but have delivery times come down significantly for brand new cars?

Have New Car Waiting Times Come Down?

Canvassing some of the manufacturers confirmed a definite improvement in situation. For example, Daniel Sayles, Head of Press & PR at Kia UK said: “While not immune to global supply chain issues, Kia UK has weathered this storm well – longer lead times on certain cars are ultimately caused by higher demand.

“That said, much of Kia UK’s vehicle line-up is now down to normal factory lead time (12-16 weeks) – including best-sellers like the Niro EV and Picanto, as well as the Rio, Sorento and Soul EV line-ups (all manufactured in Korea).

“Other Korean-built models are on slightly longer lead times, though these are coming down. This includes the EV6, with a lead time of between 4-6 months depending on the model ordered (this is down from 9-12 months earlier this year).

“For our European-built models, the Ceed model family is between 13-18 weeks – this is coming down as the year progresses. The Sportage is slightly longer (4-6 months, depending on variant), principally due to its ever-growing popularity – up to the end of April, it is the UK’s fourth best-selling car overall.”

This sets the trend of delivery times somewhat depending on location of production or assembly across the industry. Nissan UK also confirmed that most models are “available within 4 months, with British-built LEAF, QQ and Juke available in a matter of weeks, dependent on variant”.

Genesis UK quoted delivery times of 5-6 months while Suzuki UK admitted that there had been improvements though it depended on which model customers wanted: “Japanese-built Ignis and Swift are around 3-4 months. Hungarian built Vitara and S-Cross are around 2 months.”

Similarly, Honda said that the Jazz and Honda E were available within a couple of months, while the HR-V and CR-V were immeditely available. For the new Civic the order bank was “currently paused to avoid long wait times, this is due to disruption to supply. Conversations are in place regarding reopening the order bank.”

Meanwhile Toyota admitted that the situation was still “so fluid in terms of supply shifts across Europe that the answer could vary hugely day by day.”

Likewise, Audi also described the situation as remaining “fluid” as well as being “model specific and very much influenced by customers wants and needs,” though time scales were nowhere as long as previously, for example the Audi Q4 e-tron was available for delivery in 6-9 months.

Across the industry then, the official response is that delivery and waiting times on most models, if not quite at normal ‘pre-pandemic’ levels, were substantially improved on the situation as previously reported. Having said that, there have still been anecdotal reports from some would-be customers suggesting buyers could still be waiting up to a year or more for the most in-demand, high end or exclusive cars.

For the time being then, when you enquire about a new car, keep ‘when could I actually have it?’ as one of the first key questions to ask of the dealership before making a purchasing decision.

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