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