Car manufacturers across the world have enforced a temporary shutdown of factories and showrooms to protect staff and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But what does that mean for customers hanging on to buy a new model?
Spring is traditionally a key sales period for the automotive sector, with a new registration (“20” this year) made available from March 1 and a raft of important new cars due to be launched over the coming months.
While dramatic stock market falls have hit the value of nearly every company, car manufacturers are also now faced with the headache of deciding when it will be safe to resume production.
According to bosses at the company’s production plant at Gaydon in Warwickshire, both the £158,000 DBX and the forthcoming Vantage Roadster are still available to order.
“First deliveries of the Roadster are due before the end of June, while DBX cars will be with dealers by the summer,” said a spokesman.
However, like most manufacturers, that comes with a caveat – provided production and the supply chain return to operation as planned.
All of Aston’s manufacturing operations have ceased in the UK until April 20, including the new DBX plant at St Athan in South Wales which employs 750 staff. If the suspension continues, there are likely to be delays to both models. Like many car makers we spoke to, Aston Martin is unclear about whether customers who have placed orders but now face financial difficulties can cancel if their car is not delivered on time.
“We cannot comment on orders and paid deposits, as the exact terms of sale and regarding the deposit are between customer and dealer,” it said.
Can I buy a new car during lockdown?
Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on personal finances will mean that any consumers who were planning to make a big purchase, such as a car, could need to hold off during the uncertainty.
“Anyone who has already placed an order for a new car may have options depending on how they ordered.
“If you ordered it online or over the phone, the good news is that your right to cancel usually starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.
“If you ordered it in the showroom, your rights are limited.
“You might be able to cancel if a reasonable delivery time can’t be agreed. It’s worth discussing possible options with the dealer if you really feel unable to take the new car.”
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All of Jaguar Land Rover’s factories in the UK are closed until April 20 at the earliest, as well as the Slovakian plant building the all-new Defender – the company’s most important model for decades. JLR’s joint venture Changshu plant in China reopened in February. It manufactures a number of JLR vehicles, including the Range Rover Evoque and revised Discovery Sport and Jaguar E-Pace.
McLaren has shut its production facility in Woking until the end of April and is now contacting customers individually about the delivery of new cars.
The company’s all-new Super Series flagship, the track-focused 765LT, is still expected to launch in September, with cars in dealerships by October.
“Despite the current climate, we have not received any cancellations. Our cars are individual and exclusive, so customers are not so picky about timings,” said a spokesman for the company.
Vauxhall says it does not anticipate any delays with delivery of the new Corsa, or Corsa-e – the all-electric supermini built on the same platform as the Peugeot e-208, which is also the European Car of the Year.
Carlos Tavares, chairman of PSA, said: “We will not compromise on the health of our employees. A timetable for a gradual and safe resumption of work will follow.”
Volkswagen has extended its factory close-down in Germany until April 19, when it intends to resume production with new measures in place to keep staff safe.
All Porsche plants are shut and the company says the unveiling of some new cars may be delayed – although which models hasn’t been confirmed. This could impact the new 911 Turbo and Turbo S due in the summer.
Bentley suspended its production at Crewe until April 20 but says the launch of the limited edition, £1.5m Bacalar has not been affected. It’s not known if the close-down will affect the introduction of the next-generation Bentayga SUV, which was spied winter testing last November.
Also in the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) group, the launch of the new Fiat 500 EV – a rival for the Mini Electric – will take place in September as expected, with UK deliveries early in 2021.
“If we are back to work as planned on April 20, then the impact is manageable within the year, with no significant knock-on effects. However, if the need for lockdown drags on, then clearly there is a greater impact across the board,” said a spokesman.
Kia says it hasn’t been approached by any customers wishing to cancel orders of the new Soul EV.
“EV buyers are pretty committed to their purchase – it’s the same with e-Niro customers, who in some cases have been waiting for delivery for about a year anyway,” said a spokesman. “We are not cancelling the order book on any model. We have large numbers of vehicles in the country ready and waiting to go to their owners who wanted them in March but could not receive them due to the lockdown. They will be delivered as soon as the government restrictions are lifted.”
Ferrari revealed at the end of February that it planned to launch two new models in 2020. These are the SF90 Stradale, which features a twin-turbocharged V8 engine along with three electric motors to develop 986bhp, plus the more recently announced Roma – a front-engined, grand touring coupé with a turbo V8.
All Ferraris are built to order, with a waiting list of between a year and 18 months depending on the model. A spokesman added: “We have not received an abnormal level of cancellations since the crisis began.”
BMW says delays of new cars are “inevitable” under the lockdown. This could impact buyers waiting for deliveries of the M8 and possibly delay the facelifted 5-series. “We hope that customers will stick with their order. However, as is always the case, orders can be cancelled,” it said.
Mercedes was expecting the arrival of the latest GLA entry-level SUV over the next few weeks but now says it cannot rule out delays. It is trying to minimise the impact on customers who have already placed orders, saying: “Any reservation fee made online is refundable if the customer does not wish to proceed.”
The 402bhp Polestar 2 is Swedish company Volvo’s rival to the Tesla Model 3. Production is already under way at the Luqiao factory in China and the first UK customers should still receive cars by the end of the summer.
- Read more: Can I get a refund on my car insurance?
Will I still get my new car on time?
Possibly not. Restrictions on travel and transport mean that delays are inevitable across all logistics networks, and as transporting vehicles is a costly, time-consuming process, it's highly likely that new car deliveries will be affected by this.
If you are a key worker in urgent need of a new or replacement car, discuss your situation with the dealer, who may be able to assist you.
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