In days gone by, you could usually pop along to your local car dealer and choose the car you wanted and chances were that the dealer either had it in his showroom, or perhaps hidden up in a compound full of vehicles somewhere. If that wasn’t the case, they could usually check their systems and find another dealer that had exactly what you wanted and agree to take the car from that dealer, so that you could have it. All this meant, you could usually take delivery of your new car in a couple of weeks and sometimes even sooner.
Jump to 2011 and things are very different, with almost any popular vehicle needing to be ordered from the factory with lead times of anything from a month to six months and although it pains me to say it, even longer in some cases.
It means that both private buyers and companies now need to plan so much further ahead if they want to get exactly the vehicle they want. OK, all dealers stock some cars and the manufacturers have holding compounds where they hold a representative level of “un-ordered” stock, but every dealer in the country has access to the stock in these compounds and its not rocket science to figure out that the desirable vehicles get grabbed by dealers very quickly.
That said, this isn’t all the fault of changes in the way your local dealer holds his stock, but the way the manufacturers build and allocate their vehicles. Obviously a car maker can only produce a certain number of vehicles, which they allocate across the world to different market places, so the UK gets told by say Mister Audi that’s its getting 100,000 vehicles in the full year and that 100,000 vehicles is then split into models across the range and then its further split into what Audi dealers gets them and that’s very much based upon the number of vehicles each dealer sold the year before.
Now all that sounds fine, however, other markets across the world such as the Far East, China, India etc have been expanding rapidly and where in previous years they may not have bought many vehicles from a particular manufacturer, they now want to order much much bigger numbers and being aware there is huge potential in these new markets, the vehicle manufacturers happily divert a much bigger percentage of the vehicles they can make to these new and emerging markets, which means the rest of the world, that already have established markets, get less and less vehicles, so the numbers a dealer in countries like the UK can get is reduced. To add further problems, all this has come at a time when because of fear of recession, car manufacturers have in many cases scaled back their production, fearing if they build the cars they will not be able to sell them. Hence, you’re finding it tough to get a quick delivery on your new car.
So if you want to avoid sticking with your existing vehicle longer than you intend to, or if perhaps you have a lease vehicle that has to go back on a certain date, its well worth you kind-of making your mind up on the next vehicle you want and taking a trip down to your dealer, or calling your Contract Hire & Leasing company to ask them what lead time is likely on the vehicle you want next.
OK, its difficult to finalise a deal, because its so far ahead, but in some cases, manufacturers offer price protection on their vehicles, meaning that how ever long it takes to get your new vehicle, the price that was given to you when you placed the order will be honored, even if there is one or more price rises by the time your new vehicle arrives. If you have a trade-in, clearly, a dealer is unlikely to give you a hard and fast figure for that, because in 4 or 5 months you can do quite a lot more miles in it and it might pick up the odd dent or scrape in that time, but what will happen is that the dealer will give you an indicative figure, he will give you an idea (as we all have ‘crystal balls’ now in the motor trade’). If you lease your present car, well it’s simple, as you’ve got no trade in and can usually get your contract hire company to give you a quote that is likely going to apply even if your new vehicle is some months away.
So my message to you all is if you are looking to change your car, don’t leave it until the 11th hour. Talk to your dealer or your leasing company. Tell them what you want and ask their advice and that way, not only will you get the car/van at the time you want it, but also be able to order the vehicle exactly in the specification that suits you and that’s important if you are going to keep it for 2 or 3 years.
We are always happy to give you advice and point you in the right direction, even if it’s not us that ends up supplying you the vehicle (although clearly, it should be)!