Wait listed

Why some buy­ers face a two-year de­lay for in-de­mand models

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

IF you want a Ford Ranger Wild­trak you need to be pa­tient.

It’s the same story for ev­ery­thing from the Hyundai iLoad van to the MercedesBenz GLC SUV, the born-again Ford Mus­tang, the pocket rocket BMW M2 and the ex­otic Fer­rari 488 Spi­der.

There are wait­ing lists for all of them, rang­ing from three months to nearly two years. And they are not the only ones.

Ford ran short of XR cars long be­fore the fi­nal pro­duc­tion ros­ter was set for the Fal­con fac­tory at Broad­mead­ows. Over­whelm­ing de­mand also means the Subaru SUV fam­ily is now in tight sup­ply with de­lays of up to three months. Some Skoda models in­clud­ing the Fabia RS are sold out long be­fore the boats ar­rive from Europe.

Show­rooms might be flooded with base-model price fight­ers but pop­u­lar up­scale cars — and even the sporty ver­sions of fam­ily brands — are in short sup­ply.

The Ranger Wild­trak is one of the best ex­am­ples. It might cost nearly $60,000 but it has be­come an iconic choice as Ford Australia morphs from the Fal­con car com­pany to Ranger Inc. It’s al­most a bor­na­gain Fal­con GT for some peo­ple, and much more for play than work.

But it’s not the only sell­out suc­cess at Ford, as the wait for a new-age Mus­tang mus­cle car is still well over a year, hav­ing peaked at more than 18 months.

Ford Australia has been so over­whelmed on a num­ber of fronts that it has set up a track­ing sys­tem for buy­ers to fol­low their cars from the ini­tial or­der to de­liv­ery day at their lo­cal dealer.

“At key mile­stones — pre­build, start of build and so on — cus­tomers are in­formed, via email, that this step has been achieved,” says Ford spokesman Damion Smy.

“Then an es­ti­mated time of ar­rival is ... de­ter­mined by the av­er­age time from this point to the end.”

There is a hitch and it’s a big one for a lot of Mus­tang buy­ers.

“It’s not un­til the fac­tory has de­ter­mined pro­duc­tion and as­signed a spe­cific ve­hi­cle that a cus­tomer will be able to track their car,” Smy says.

In some cases that can take months but it’s not just Ford and the Mus­tang. Sup­plies of the rampaging BMW M2 are so short that BMW Australia is not mak­ing any prom­ises on de­liv­ery times. The M2s built for the first half of 2017 have yet to be matched with cus­tomer names from the wait­ing list.

At Mercedes-Benz, the mid “Then sized GLC SUV has cre­ated a sen­sa­tion in Australia with a sig­nif­i­cant wait­ing list, cur­rently up to six months.

But it’s not just fast cars and up­scale choices, as Hyundai proves with its iLoad van.

“Sup­ply of the iLoad is very tight and there are some de­lays. That’s be­cause it is built on the same pro­duc­tion line as the Santa Fe, which is one of our most pop­u­lar models,” says Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas.

Skoda is still bat­tling for trac­tion with Aus­tralian buy­ers, who are mostly not aware that it’s part of the Volk­swa­gen Group, but some cars have hit the right note.

“Fabia is a bit of a segment buster, so there are (for­ward or­ders) for that car. It’s the same for the Su­perb,” says Skoda spokesman Paul Pottinger.

“Ev­ery­one wants all the op­tion packs. With the Su­perb, they want a Christ­mas tree with al the baubles.

“We also an­tic­i­pated the wagon would be 70 per cent of

sales but the sedan (ac­counts for) up to 50 per cent be­cause the new model looks a lot bet­ter.”

At Subaru, which is aim­ing for a new sales record in 2016, the wait de­pends on the model and the dealer.

“If you’re af­ter a spe­cific colour and trim they may have it but it may also be a three­month wait,” says Subaru man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nick Se­nior. “Our or­der banks are strong­est on Out­back, Forester and XV. So it’s the three SUVs.

“But it varies from dealer to dealer, re­gion to re­gion, on the tim­ing.”

For Subaru shop­pers, Se­nior has some good news on get­ting the right car at the right place and time.

“If a cus­tomer walks into a deal­er­ship and they don’t have the ex­act car they want, deal­ers are able to do swaps, right through­out Australia, to try and get cus­tomers into cars as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We try to help source cars for cus­tomers. We en­cour­age swaps at the na­tional and re­gional lev­els. We have a cou­ple of peo­ple work­ing on this al­most full-time.”

When it comes to wait­ing lists, no one tops Fer­rari. A long-term com­pany pol­icy of build­ing one car fewer than the com­pany can sell, and the qual­ity of its cur­rent line-up, means su­per-long lead times for own­ers.

“For the 488 Coupe and Spi­der, on av­er­age, it’s about one-and-a-half years, but it can stretch out to two years,” says Fer­rari Australia boss Herbert Ap­pleroth.

“The F12 is well into next year, so that’s well over six months. The Cal­i­for­nia con­vert­ible is over six months too, so that’s a prob­lem for us. It’s the car that peo­ple come to from other brands.

“These are peo­ple who are not used to wait­ing, so it is a bit of a prob­lem. We’re do­ing the best we can to get more cars here in Australia.”

But Fer­rari buy­ers are well treated while they’re wait­ing, with among other things an ex­act scale replica of their com­ing car — down to body colour, in­te­rior trim and the chas­sis num­ber — as a pre­de­liv­ery gift.

They also get an in­di­vid­ual landing page on the com­pany’s web­site, so they can track progress.

Cashed-up Fer­rari buy­ers are of­ten able to make things even more spe­cial.

“We’re do­ing the best we can to get more cars here,” Ap­pleroth says. “We en­cour­age our cus­tomers to have a Fer­rari ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Over 250 buy­ers from Australia go to Maranello ev­ery year — that’s a huge num­ber. Ev­ery­one can see their car be­ing built.

“Even if they can­not at­tend they can see it over the web on their landing page.

“It’s the same as a baby. Ninemonth ges­ta­tion, then be­ing born, it’s a sim­i­lar process.”

Don’t hold your breath: Clock­wise from above, Skoda Su­perb, Fer­rari 488 Coupe, Subaru XV and Ford Ranger Wild­trak

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