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Leasing a new car is an exciting experience for many customers so understandably, it can be incredibly frustrating when things go wrong, particularly when it comes to delivery.

Here at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, we do our best to ensure that the estimated arrival dates we give to our customers are as accurate as possible however on rare occasions, delays do occur due to manufacturer or production issues.

To help explain why delivery delays sometimes occur and to ease any concerns you may have, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together a short guide to explain how delivery lead times work, what may cause a delay with your delivery if your vehicle is pushed back by the manufacturer.

What is a delivery lead time?

When you lease a vehicle from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, our brand supplier gives us an estimated “delivery lead time” based on information given by the manufacturer. The delivery lead time refers to the amount of time that it takes from placing the order with the manufacturer to your new car arriving at the dealership, ready for delivery.

It is worth mentioning that delivery lead times not only vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but can also vary from model to model, particularly if you have requested a vehicle with a specific engine or transmission. One example is Volkswagen cars fitted with DSG gearboxes. These gearboxes are always in high demand so lead times for cars fitted with DSG tend to be longer than other Volkswagen cars in the range.

The length of the delivery lead time also depends on a number of other factors including the build allocation slot, customer demand and, in some cases, the time of year you place your order. Analysis by CarWow shows the average delivery lead time for a new car is around 13 weeks, with some models such as the Mercedes-Benz GL taking up to 52 weeks to be delivered!

How accurate are delivery lead times?

As building a car is a complicated process, even a small delay at one stage of production can set the entire process back days or even weeks. As such, exact delivery times, particularly for factory orders, are always estimated and do not constitute an obligation for Nationwide Vehicle Contracts or the supplying dealer to supply the vehicle in the time specified.

To help keep customers up-to-date with the progress of their order, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts constantly requests updates from our supplying dealer. If the delivery lead time for your vehicle is put back or brought forward, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts will email you and send you a text message (provided you have opted into this service) with an update. Customers can also log into our Customer Account Area at any time to view the latest due date for their vehicle.

Please be aware that as Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has no control or influence over manufacturer lead times, we cannot accept any responsibility for any losses or inconvenience caused because of a delay from the manufacturer.

What could delay my delivery?

There are a number of things that can affect the delivery of your new car, some of which relate specifically to factory orders, others which relate to issues which may occur at the dealership.

Build Allocation Slot

When a factory order vehicle is ordered by the dealer, it is given a build allocation slot by the manufacturer. Every dealer is given its own build allocation slots and these slots can move depending on supply constraints.

For example, if a Mercedes-Benz dealer is given a monthly build allocation of 20 slots for the new GL but they take 30 orders in one month, 10 of the orders will automatically be put into next month’s allocation. This now means they only have 10 slots available for the following month, which has a knock on effect and can eventually result in a long lead time. A dealer also cannot put in an order if they have used all their build allocation slots which is why sometimes a build date cannot be given.

Here at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, we use lots of supplying dealers to try and reduce delivery lead times for our customers. Wherever possible, we will contact a number of supplying dealers to see who has any build allocation slots left before we place the order. That said, some of our offers are linked to specific dealers so it isn’t always possible for us to change the brand supplier.  

If a short lead time is important to you and you can be flexible when it comes to colour choice and optional extras, it might be worth considering leasing a stock vehicle. Visit our Fast Lease page to view our full range of stock cars or call Nationwide Vehicle Contracts on 0345 811 9595 to talk to an experienced leasing consultant about the options available to you.

The Volume of Orders

Occasionally, the clamour from customers for a particular car model is great and the manufacturer underestimates demand. One example of this is the new Tesla Model 3 which is due to go on sale mid-2017. More than 115,000 reservations were placed by customers within a matter of days for a car that is not expected to ship in considerable volume until 2019. Weeks later, this number increased to 276,000.

Another example is the new-look Ford Fiesta which was launched in 2011. The car made headlines for receiving “6,000 reservations and more than 100,000 handraisers, months ahead of its launch this summer.”  By the end of 2011, the Fiesta had sold 781,147 units.

When demand is unexpectedly high for a particular model, the capacity on the factory production line is pushed to its limit and delays begin to occur. A manufacturer is forced to cope with a backlog of orders which can push the delivery lead time back by a few weeks or even months.

The Geographical Location

The manufacturing site where your vehicle is built also affects the time that it takes to deliver your new car. Parts and components are made all over the world and vehicles built outside Europe (such as in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico) are subject to extended shipping times, typically taking around six weeks after build.

One example of this is the new Volkswagen Beetle which is built in Mexico. It takes three weeks for this vehicle just to be shipped to England after build. Most car manufacturers also outsource their parts to other countries, with more than one-fourth of the parts in vehicles assembled in the United States imported from other countries. Any delay or a shortage of these items has a knock-on effect down the line and can delay your car from rolling out of the factory.

Shipping Issues

Alongside vehicle manufacturing problems, shipping issues may also result in a delay with the delivery of your new car. New vehicle logistics companies often use road, rail and sea to get the vehicle from the manufacturing site to the dealership, which is a huge operation. Ford alone has 13 full production plants that produce 2.5 million vehicles for 4,000 dealers. The correct vehicles must be properly routed through multiple channels in order to ensure a timely and damage-free delivery.

As such, problems associated with logistics such as strikes and processing backlogs at ports will have an adverse impact on delivery of any new vehicle. Other factors such as adverse weather conditions can also affect delivery, especially during the winter months, when trucks are more likely to break down and problems on the transport network force road or rail closures.

Damaged or Missing Parts

Once your vehicle has arrived in the country, it goes through a Pre-Delivery Inspection (also known as a PDI check) to ensure it is fit for delivery. This includes a complete and thorough examination of every aspect of the car, including the exterior, interior, mechanical parts and electrics. If the vehicle is found to be damaged or is missing any parts or equipment (such as an SD card for your Sat Nav system), this can cause a delay to your delivery.

While many minor problems can be resolved at the dealership, major issues will need passed on to an appropriate specialist and may require a replacement part to be ordered. Replacement parts may be out of stock, which could keep your car off the road for weeks while the parts are sourced. One example of this is when the latest Volkswagen Golf was launched. Supply chain delays meant cars fitted with a rear-view camera were delivered later than those without.

Driver Availability

Another issue can may result in a slight delay to the delivery of your new vehicle relates to delivery driver availability. Each dealer has a limited number of delivery slots per working day and these slots book up quickly. New registration months such as March and September are naturally busy as customers take advantage of the new registration plates. Holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter also book up very quickly as the extended amount of bank holidays has a knock-on effect on availability.

Driver sickness or last minute staff absences can also have a serious impact on delivery. On average, there is a 5 working day turnaround from your vehicle landing at the dealership to arriving at your front door but if driver availability is poor because of sickness or absence, it can take up to 7 to 10 working days to secure a booking.

Human Error

Finally, human error can also play a part. On occasion, dealerships fail to book in a delivery slots which mean deliveries have been rearranged. WhatCar? also report that some of their customers have experienced delays when a dealer has ordered the wrong specification by accident, so when the car finally arrives it isn’t what was specified, pushing the buyer to the back of the queue for a replacement.

It is worth noting that while on occasion delays do occur, the chances of your new car being delayed by more than a few weeks is fairly low. In our experience, most cars are delivered within two weeks of their estimated delivery lead time, with less than 20% of cars delayed by more than a month or so.

Am I entitled to a courtesy car if my vehicle is delayed?

As Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has no control or influence over manufacturer lead times, we cannot accept any responsibility for any losses or inconvenience caused because of a delay from the manufacturer. Therefore, we do not provide the provision of a hire vehicle in the event that your delivery lead time is put back by the manufacturer.

If there is a delay to the estimated delivery lead time of your vehicle, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts will keep you up informed so that you can make any alternative arrangements if necessary. Whilst we understand that delivery delays can be incredibly frustrating for customers, the situation is equally frustrating for us. It is in our interest to deliver your vehicle within the predicted timeframe and while we will try our best to ensure delays do not happen, we are often powerless, particularly if the issue is at manufacturer or dealership level.

Can I cancel my order if I am unhappy with the delivery lead time?

If the delivery lead time of your vehicle has been put back by an unreasonable amount of time, you may choose to cancel your lease order.

For cancelled orders, customers are entitled to a full refund of the processing fee provided the order is cancelled before the end of the 14 day statutory ‘cooling off’ period observed by the finance provider. The refund will be issued to private individuals, sole traders and partnerships. The law applies equally to both personal and business customers, unless they are limited companies or limited liability partnerships. Refunds will be issued within 30 calendar days from the day on which Nationwide Vehicle Contracts receives the notification of cancellation.

For cancellations received after the expiry of the 14 day ‘cooling off’ period, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts will retain the processing fee to cover all costs incurred up to that point. Depending upon circumstances, private individuals, sole traders and partnerships who have cancelled their order after the expiry of the ‘cooling off’ period may be eligible for a credit note against future orders up to a maximum of six months from the point of cancellation.

Limited companies and limited liability partnerships will not be entitled to a refund of the processing fee but depending upon circumstances, may be eligible for a credit note against future orders up to a maximum of six months from the point of cancellation. Customers should contact Nationwide Vehicle Contracts in the first instance to discuss their case as this is judged on a case-by-case basis.

Have a question about delivery lead times? Leave a comment below or call Nationwide Vehicle Contracts on 0345 811 9595 to speak to one of our experienced leasing consultants. 


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