Fleet Alliance has written to its fleet customers advising them that the lengthy lead times for new vehicle orders currently commonplace in the fleet market will become the norm, based on its own figures over the last 15 months.
For 2010, the average lead time for each new vehicle order that Fleet Alliance placed was 84 days from order to invoice. For the first three months of this year, that figure has increased to 94 days, and for new vehicle orders in the pipeline, it has extended still further to an average 115 days per vehicle.
The company, which manages around 9,000 vehicles on behalf of corporate customers, has written to its clients explaining that the current lead times are likely to stay and that fleet buyers need to think much earlier about placing orders if they wanted to get the vehicles their drivers had selected.
In the letter, Fleet Alliance told its fleet customers: “We are working very closely with our dealer network throughout the UK to source vehicle choices in line with our clients’ requirements, and in the vast majority of cases, we are able to supply vehicles well within the required timeframe.
“While lead times will improve in time, it is important that you review your vehicle choices as early as possible. To this end, we will be contacting you six months ahead of contract end in an effort to mitigate any potential delays.”
Fleet Alliance managing director Martin Brown, said: “Our new vehicle orders are skewed because of the ‘weighting’ we have for vehicles from Volkswagen Audi from our customer base, but it is true that lead times across the board are getting longer for all makes – and are likely to remain so.
“There are a number of factors involved, including the growth of the highly lucrative Chinese market and the impact of the Japanese earthquake on both vehicle and component supply.
“We are also seeing most major European countries moving to a carbon based tax regime for company cars which is placing a greater premium on low carbon emitters for which demand is strongest.
“We are now asking our fleet customers to think much further ahead if they really want the cars that their drivers are requesting and to order early to avoid disappointment. At this stage, six months does not seem unreasonable.”