Whether you’re getting a company car or arranging a new personal vehicle we know that there’s one important question you’ll be asking – when will my car arrive? In this guide we want to break down the delivery lead time of a vehicle and what can affect it to help you understand how long your vehicle will take to arrive.

What is Delivery Lead Time?

The phrase delivery lead time is used to denote the time it will take from the point of your vehicle being ordered to the time it will arrive with you.

The delivery lead time might change depending on if there is a delay or a particular part of the process goes quicker than expected to. Most companies will advise that the delivery lead time is just an estimate until the vehicle has arrived at the dealership and they are able to arrange onwards delivery to you. 

If your vehicle is one being sourced by Wessex Fleet then you will be able to see an estimated delivery date on our dashboard. This estimated delivery date is based on the delivery lead time and any movement to this will be reflected here as well as sent to you as an update.

Please note the date shown in the estimated delivery date is only an estimate and not guaranteed. Once we have arranged delivery the confirmed delivery date will then be entered for you.

The delivery lead time you’re provided with will be as accurate as possible at the time of ordering.

At Wessex Fleet we work with our dealers to provide you with regular updates on the lead time and advise you of any changes as soon as we are aware of them. Unfortunately, there are unforeseen circumstances that may occur that extend the lead time of a vehicle and the current pandemic is having unprecedented impacts across the industry, that cannot always be predicted.

What is the Current Lead Time for New Cars?

The lead time on cars varies depending on what model you are looking at at the best of times but with the long-term impact of Covid-19 and further supply shortages caused by the Ukrainian war for some manufacturers we're seeing unprecedented lead times across the industry. 

We're also seeing more movement in lead times for cars on order from the factory as manufacturers work to make the best choices for their employees and customers. This means that we are seeing vehicles with lead times of up 12 months which is unprecedented. However, this is not across all models and the specific lead time will depend on the car you are interested in, the build schedule and number of other customers who want that model.

How Accurate are the Lead Times?

Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of movement in delivery lead times at the moment because of the current climate and this is affecting all manufacturers around the world. Brands are keeping their dealerships updated on the movements to build schedules and dealers are in turn letting brokers and customers know of any movement as it happens to try and keep the lead time as accurate as possible as the order moves along. 

If you or your business is sourcing a car through Wessex Fleet then we will regularly get updates on your vehicle and let you know what the dealer advises, whether there is movement or it remains the same in order to keep you informed of an accurate lead time. 

What is the Difference Between Factory and Stock Orders?

There are two categories that vehicles will fall under – factory orders and stock vehicles – based on whether the car is built or not.

Factory Order

A factory order is one that is placed to be built at the factory and so you can pick your exact specification and any extras that you might want to choose for the vehicle.

When you order a vehicle from the factory it will be accepted and then placed into a queue to be assigned a build slot.

Once a build slot is assigned then it will move towards that and then once built move into transportation from the factory to the dealership.

Stock Vehicle

A vehicle can be classed as in stock if it is physically at the supplying dealership or is in the UK and due to arrive imminently.

As some cars will be classed as stock whilst they are still in this last stage of transport then they may take a little longer to arrive to you due to port exit processes and movement logistics and so most dealers will not arrange delivery to you until the car is actually with them in case there are any unexpected delays.

If you need to get a vehicle as quickly as possible then a stock option would be the best choice but if there is a specific feature or spec level you are after then this might require a factory order.

Factory Order Lead Times

A vehicle from the factory can take several months to arrive with you and there are several factors that could influence the time it takes for a vehicle to be built and delivered to you including:

Model demand – If you are looking at a particularly popular model then the queue of vehicles scheduled to be built will be longer which usually translates into a longer lead time.   Conversely, a less popular model might have to wait longer to be built because there is lower demand so it will not be scheduled for models to be built as soon or frequently.

Options chosen – Depending on the additional options chosen then production might take slightly longer or be scheduled at a different time, for example if you opt for a model with a sunroof then this might be made at a different time to versions without this. If you decide to amend any of the options, you have chosen prior to the vehicle being built then this may affect your scheduled build week and push the delivery lead time of your vehicle back.

The time of year – Though you might not think it the time of year can have an impact on the lead time of your vehicle. This is because at different times of the year a factory will be producing different models and they may also have an annual closure where no vehicles are produced for a few weeks.

Factory location – The travel time for your vehicle will depend, in part, on the distance it needs to travel. Very few cars are produced in the UK currently and the time it takes for a vehicle to be shipped and go through the necessary port checks can be a few weeks in itself.

How Long Does It Take for a Stock Car To Be Delivered?

Most dealerships will need around seven to 14 days from the car arriving with them to getting it out to you. This time is to allow them to do the pre-delivery inspection to make sure the car is in top condition to be delivered and arranging a driver to bring it to you.

However, before they are able to arrange delivery the paperwork needs to be completed and this not being done promptly can lead to a longer wait for delivery. 

Can I Get a Quicker Delivery?

Unfortunately, there is little that you can do to reduce the lead time of delivery for your new car especially if it is a factory order.

One thing that you can do to ensure the vehicle can be delivered as quickly as possible from the dealership is to complete the finance documents as quickly as possible. You will not be able to arrange delivery of a vehicle until the necessary paperwork is completed and approved if it is for a finance agreement.

If you are funding the vehicle yourself then there may be a cooling-off period before it can be delivered, even if it is in stock at the dealership. Cooling off periods will usually last 14 days.



Covid-19’s Impact on Vehicle Lead Times

Though factories, dealerships and ports are now reopen the automotive industry is going to be feeling the long-term impact for a while yet.

There are a number of ways in which Covid has affected vehicle production and transportation but for UK drivers the main impacts are:

  • Factory closures during lockdown mean that build weeks of existing orders were pushed back as more orders were added to the queue.
  • The worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips which are essential for many features in modern vehicles means production of many models has been paused or they are being made with fewer options.
  • Changes to process at the factory and ports as well as by the transportation company in order to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid and so each stage taking longer than prior to the pandemic.

How long a lot of these challenges will last is still an unknown.

Factories are now operating again but the waiting list for models continues to grow as they deal with supply issues of parts including the semi-conductor chips and how they combat these to produce new vehicles.

During the pandemic when factories were closed the majority of car manufacturers cancelled their contract with the semi-conductor providers as they were not needed, this meant that when they reopened new orders had to be placed which were behind the tech companies who continued to place orders during lockdowns. Tech companies that produce tablets, laptops and mobile phones saw a rise in demand for their products during the pandemic which saw them place larger orders for microchips, which are still being fulfilled, further delaying the later orders by car manufacturers as they can only produce one type of microchip at a time. There are also a limited number of factories that are capable of producing semi-conductors, and they have had to deal with a factory fire at one and storms and floods at another which has again had an effect on how long it is taking to produce the chips, which in turn delays vehicles.  

As Covid rules are still in place to varying degrees around the world there is no way of knowing if or when the additional measures that have been put in place, such as one way systems or extra cleaning time between stages of production at the factory, that take additional time will be removed.

The increased time a vehicle spends at port is also affected by the additional processes and paperwork that needs to be completed due to Brexit, and a shortage of HGV drivers available to drive the transporter required to move the car from port to the dealership.


Contact Wessex Fleet