March 1st 2022 will see a new ‘22’ plate arrive for freshly registered cars, and you may well be thinking of putting in that order for a new motor to secure the plate. Trouble is, place an order now, and you’re more like to end up getting it by the time the ‘72’ plate change comes into effect on 1st September.
Incidentally two further new rulings are coming into force regarding number plates at the beginning of March: the numbers and letters on plates must be a solid black typescript without any grey shading suggesting a 3D effect, and the plates are to be made from a new material which is tougher and less prone to damage or abrasion.
Anyway, that’s all moot if you haven’t a spanking new car to put it on. So just how long are you likely to wait?
Long Waiting Lists & Delivery Times
Several manufacturers responded to our query about delivery time delays, and while there was some variation in responses, most admitted to long lead times at present.
BMW revealed that built-to-order BMW models (and most are usually highly personalised) is 5-6 months (of which 4-6 weeks is just the transit time). Order a new Mini today and it won't be made until June at the earliest. Although for both brands there is some limited stock available for delivery within two weeks.
Similarly, Volvo confirmed that orders placed today would be built from June onwards and for models built in China and America (XC60 PHEV, S90 and S60) it would take longer to deliver.
New Renault and Dacia models ordered now would arrive 'before August' it was claimed with the new Megane E-Tech Electric only available to order in April and delivered in September.
The Volkswagen group (including Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands) conceded only that delivery times were longer than normal.
Jaguar Land Rover are currently quoting delivery times of 6-12 months, and when a friend tried to buy the actual demonstrator Defender that he test drove the other week, the dealer quoted him £120,000, about TWICE its list price!
Kia indicated wait times of between 2-4 months with the UK best-sellers (Sportage and Ceed models) being available within two months, while EV6 and Sorento waits were even longer due to high global demand for them.
Hyundai was a little vaguer saying only that limited amounts of stock were available with lead times for specifically ordered cars varying across models.
The most easily available brand among the respondents appeared to be Honda, which declared that all models were available for immediate delivery and suggested that any specific orders could be delivered between 6-8 weeks.
Used Market – Rocketing Prices
If you want to change your car today, frankly your best bet is to buy a used car. However, be warned, you'll pay well over typical market prices, in some cases as much as 55% higher!
According to used car classifieds website, Auto Trader, the average price of a used car reached £20,340, which was a 29% year-on-year increase - the 93rd consecutive week of price growth, and which is likely to continue unabated for now!
The largest used car price increases between 7-13th February saw the SEAT Alhambra rise 55%, Ford S-Max up 52.6% and Skoda Yeti jump by 51.5%. Even the Ford Focus was up 46.9% and the aforementioned Land Rover Defender commands a 48% premium used, with an average asking price of nearly $83,000.
What is going on with car sales?
Put simply, demand for cars has soared and supply has been severely constrained. Last year car production in the UK fell to its lowest levels since 1965, as a result of one bottleneck in particular.
According to the SMMT (Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders) UK vehicle production in 2021 was the lowest in over 65 years, with just over 859,000 vehicles produced in 2021, that’s over 60,000 less than in 2020. And it’s all to do with chips. Not the eating kind, but the computing kind.
A modern car needs between 1500 to 3000 computer chips in it to manage the engine, electronics and safety systems etc. Unfortunately, as manufacturers cancelled orders during the lockdown in 2020 when car sales plummeted, electronics companies, including mobile phone makers, ramped up their advance orders.
Meanwhile since last year, as people came out of lockdown and a) decided they didn't like using communal public transport systems and b) realised life was short and they wanted their next car now, demand has dramatically increased.
However, car makers have been pushed down the queue and there simply aren't enough computer chips to go around. The shortage is expected to last well into this year, with improvements only expected in the second half of 2022 and sales anticipated to recover to just over 1 million vehicles this year.
Already in January of this year, the SMMT revealed that new car registrations jumped 27.5% compared to the same month last year with a total of over 115,000 cars sold. The increase came mostly from private buyers (62,300), which manufacturers are prioritising over fleet sales.
So, What Should You Do?
Unless you want to pay well over the odds, and/or wait until after summer for your new car, you should put off buying a car – new or used – until 2023, or at least until the tail end of this year when the market is widely expected to normalise. If you're keeping your car for longer, get a warranty quote today to protect your vehicle from unexpected and expensive repair bills.
That assumes of course that you already have a car at your disposal. And if you do, rest assured that cars are designed, develop and built to last longer than ever before, as long as they are properly serviced and maintained (head over to our maintain and repair sections on this website for help with this). Plus, book a Free MotorEasy Health Check, and think about taking advantage of our warranty protection against expensive bills.
In any case, you know what beats a ‘22’ plate? A ‘23’ plate!