Fleets are becoming increasingly frustrated with delivery times for new vehicles, with many popular models taking six months or more.
It’s resulted in businesses trying to fill the gap by turning to rental, extending existing contracts or falling foul of excess mileage charges.
The growing complexity of vehicle specifications is seen as a contributor factor, along with an increasing demand from the Far East and a scaling back of production as the recession began to bite.
However John Lewis, chief executive of the BVRLA, said that one of the main factors influencing lead times was exchange rates.
“The UK distribution arms of the main manufacturers have to bid for their allocation of vehicles and this usually has to be done in Euros,” explained Lewis. “They can fall pretty far down the list when the pound is weak making UK supply less profitable than other countries.”
In a Fleet News poll, nine out of 10 respondents (90%) said they were experiencing delays in vehicle delivery times, with Audi and Volkswagen seen as the biggest culprits.
“This is becoming a real headache,” said one respondent.
“You’re left to try and juggle people and vehicles with gaps being filled by potentially expensive alternatives.”
Meanwhile, one Volkswagen customer told Fleet News that a two-month delay with two new vans cost his company £3,500 in hire charges.
Mike Lloyd, chairman of the BVRLA’s leasing and broker committee, said: “All we ask for are accurate production schedules so that a professional service can be delivered and the smooth running of normal business left undisturbed.”
Volkswagen said it was working hard to minimise any disruption caused to customers resulting from pressures on supply.
“Where delivery times are extended, if a short lead time is important for a customer, there are sufficient cars in stock which can be delivered almost immediately,” a spokesman explained.
“It may be that a customer has to be more flexible on specification or colour, but it should be possible to satisfy most requirements.”
Audi has admitted that many of its customers faced long waits in 2010 because the UK had not been allocated enough build slots at factories following poor car sales in 2009 and expectations that 2010 would be worse, but promised they would improve (Fleet News, December 16, 2010).
A spokesman said: “For the majority of the Audi range that attracts fleet drivers, our lead times will vary from 12 –20 weeks, with only some of our special edition models experiencing longer lead times due to strong customer demand.”
The majority of other manufacturers said they were averaging from between 10-12 weeks, with notable exceptions including a 20-week wait for the BMW X3, up to 19 weeks for the Ford Ka and more than six months for Hyundai’s ix35 2.0-litre derivative.
At Toyota, European produced core models are around four weeks if ordering a vehicle that was not in stock such as Aygo, Yaris, Auris, Avensis and Verso. For Japanese produced vehicles, the longest lead time is 6-8 weeks if a vehicle is being built to order such as a Lexus LS 600h.