New car lead times mean a lack of credibility for dealers and manufacturers

Why do manufacturers go to the expense of a sumptuous new model launch, run expensive advertising campaigns to get potential customers all sexed up, invariably treat the dealer network to a big launch event jolly up usually somewhere exotic only to then expect potential buyers to wait 6 months or more for the privilege of owning the car in question?

I remember in days gone by selling Audi’s when they launched the first TT. Never before had we been so excited by a car and the enthusiasm was matched by our loyal customers who were eager to get their hands on one so much that they left large deposits without even knowing the final price or model line up. Even when the car was eventually unveiled and Audi starved production it heated demand and created hype to such an extent that nearly new or demos were going for more than the list price such was the frenzy about owning one. Although it was very frustrating as a sales exec it was kind of exciting knowing we had a winning model which was the real deal and to an extent heralded Audi’s arrival in the premier league of car makers and we all understood what Audi were trying to do; create a buzz around the brand and desire for the latest products.

Today’s world is different. Although you still get what you pay for to a certain extent, the technology is being used by most car makers and even models and makes you wouldn’t expect have some of the latest gadgetry and innovation. Despite this we hear daily from BMW, VW, Audi, Mercedes and even some Ford and Vauxhall buyers complaining that they have been told that the model they are interested in has a 6 to 9 month lead time. Yes you did read that right, not weeks as it once as but now months. At a time when customers buying new cars are a precious commodity we run the risk of severely pissing them off by saying thanks for wanting to buy a new car from us but you are going to have a long wait before you get your hands on it.

We have all heard stories of long waiting times and the longest I personally have heard so far is a customer who has been quoted a year for a BMW X3 auto! Hard to believe but unless this changes the car industry runs the risk of creating some seriously bad publicity for itself and plenty of disillusionment for people working in the trade.

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