Despite chip shortages and long lead times, customers are happy to wait up to 12 months for their brand new cars

  • What Car? survey shows customers are becoming more patient
  • Between April and October, share of buyers happy to wait more than 16 weeks grew
  • Survey also finds some new car buyers switched and bought used instead

Time 2 weeks ago

Customers are becoming more patient while waiting for their brand new cars to be delivered, new data shows. 

A What Car? survey shows that buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the microchip shortages affecting new car supply, and are adjusting their expectations accordingly.

The survey quizzed on average 2,060 new car buyers every week between the beginning of April and the second week of October.

It shows the number of customers prepared to wait anywhere between one week and 12 weeks fell, while the number happy to wait more than 16 weeks grew. 

The share of customers prepared to wait between four and eight weeks, for instance, was 22 per cent in the first week of April. However, by the middle of October this had fallen to 16 per cent.

At the same time, the share of customers happy to wait for more than 16 weeks for their brand new factory-ordered cars grew from 21 per cent at the start of April, to 34 per cent in the second week of October.    

Jim Holder, editorial director, What Car?, said: ‘New car buyers are aware of the difficulties the industry is currently experiencing and our research has found many are now adjusting their waiting times expectations accordingly.

‘While some have switched to the used market, many new car buyers are willing to wait longer for their next vehicle to arrive.

‘In some cases this means accepting a waiting period of up to 12 months. The key for dealers is to keep buyers up to date on their order with frequent updates, and remain communicative throughout.’

Survey respondents were asked what they would do if their expectations on waiting times could not be met.

At the beginning of April, 35 per cent said they would instead buy from stock, nearly new or used from the same car maker. Meanwhile, 43 per cent said they would switch brands to another carmaker with availability, and 22 per cent would buy an alternative model from the same carmaker. 

However, by the second week of October, the figures differed only slightly (38 per cent, 47 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively), enforcing the notion that new car buyers are becoming more patient. 

Drilling down into the second week of October figures where 34 per cent of respondents said they were happy to wait for more than 16 weeks, 10 per cent said they were willing to wait between nine and 12 months.

Some 74 per cent new factory buyers said they were happy to stick with the purchase if their dealer was upfront about the waiting times, and 52 per cent they would like a monthly update from their dealer on the anticipated delivery date. 

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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