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How coronavirus is impacting the car industry; what you need to know if you’re buying a car

Many car factories have shut down due to the coronavirus. We've asked leading car manufacturers how this could affect waiting times for new cars, plus what else car buyers need to know

How coronavirus is impacting the car industry; what you need to know if you’re buying a car

Many cars are still available to buy right now if you need one for essential travel, but some – though not all – manufacturers have warned of delays to delivery times for some pre-ordered cars.  

Buying a new car may not be your top priority right now, especially when we should only be leaving the house for essential purposes.

But if you’re waiting on the delivery of a new car you’ve already ordered, or need to buy a new vehicle because yours has conked out and you need to drive for work or for other vital reasons, you may have questions. We’ve quizzed major car brands to help you know if and how you could be affected.

Most manufacturers pointed out that, like other businesses, they’re having to respond to a constantly changing situation, so nothing is set in stone. Many are awaiting government advice to re-open their car factories, and many supply chains are also affected.

Car manufacturers say that their top priority is putting the safety of their customers, employees and retailers first.

Many car manufacturers have also been helping to combat the pandemic. For example, Jaguar Land Rover is producing protective visors for the NHS, and others are working to try and solve the shortage of ventilators needed for those suffering acute symptoms from the virus.

Read on for an overview of what’s going on in the car market right now, or click the links below to head straight to the latest updates from popular car brands:


Read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?


Can I order a new car now?

Unless you are a key worker or need a car for one of the essential reasons for driving that have been outlined by the government during the lockdown, you may wish to put off buying a new car for the time being – nobody should be out driving unless they have to. And you won’t be able to test drive any cars during lockdown.

But, while many car factories have shut down due to the coronavirus, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t buy a car if you need one urgently. Manufacturers told us there are many cars available to buy right now – partly due to reduced demand.

Car showrooms are closed, but most manufacturers have online showrooms you can buy from instead, or try contacting local retailers in your area by phone or email to ask what is possible. Our guide on how to buy the best new car has more buying advice.

Even if you don’t need to drive right now, if you were thinking of buying a new car before the lockdown, there’s nothing stopping you doing a bit of research now so you’re ready with your shortlist of models when the restrictions are lifted.

For the very best models available on the market, as selected by our experts and professional lab tests, see our best cars for 2020.

How is coronavirus affecting car waiting times?

We contacted a range of the UK’s most popular car brands in the UK to ask them:

  • Whether car buyers should expect to wait longer to receive a car they’ve ordered.
  • If prices would be protected for cars already ordered.

Will car orders take longer to deliver?

Whether a car you’ve ordered will be delivered on time may depend on if the model you’ve ordered is already available in stock in the UK. Delays may be more likely if the car you’ve ordered has been customised with an unusual mix of options, meaning it’s less likely to be available in stock held as standard. 

If you need the car urgently, some brands we contacted said they are willing to switch the model you ordered for one with a different specification that is in stock to get a faster delivery.

Some manufacturers, in particular those that rely on factories or suppliers based overseas, have said there could be delays. Read on to find out whether delays are likely with each manufacturer and, if in doubt, contact your dealer.

BMW and Mini

Many Mini cars are built in the UK, which makes delays in delivering Mini cars less likely.

BMW cars are built abroad, and waiting times depend on the availability of stock in the UK. If you buy a BMW car that needs to be built to order, under usual circumstances the delivery time is typically 3-4 months, depending on the specification of model you choose. Waiting times can also be longer for models particularly high in demand.

BMW says it ‘cannot provide future delivery projections at this time’, as coronavirus means that the situation is constantly changing. 

To find out which of their models have aced our tests, see our Mini and BMW car reviews.

Ford

Ford says that for customers who have ordered vehicles, it will ‘do everything we can to deliver if it is already built’.

It is working with dealers to inform customers of any delays, including consulting with the customer whether they would prefer to wait or switch to a specification of car already built.

Our expert lab tests and experts tell you which are the Ford models to look out for – see our Ford car reviews.

Honda

Honda says there are currently no delays to the delivery of Honda cars in the UK. It says it is waiting for the UK lockdown to lift to return all the services it provides back to normal.

Find out the top Honda cars by checking out our Honda car reviews.

Land Rover and Jaguar

These brands say ‘delays are likely for any vehicle orders at this stage’ since local government requirements may affect both retailers and car manufacturing plants. They say customers should contact their local dealer or contact Jaguar Land Rover’s Customer Experience Centre for more information.

Existing customers who have bought a car on finance and have concerns relating to coronavirus can find answers to commonly asked questions on the Jaguar and Land Rover websites.

To see how cars from these British-based brands perform in our rigorous tests, check out our Jaguar and Land Rover car reviews.

Mercedes-Benz and Smart

Both brands say the majority of their UK buyers tend to buy new cars from their existing stock at retailers and from their online showroom, and that these cars are available now to buy new. Customers can also place a refundable reservation fee online.

If you own a Mercedes-Benz or Smart car, more information on servicing them at this time is available on the Mercedes-Benz website.

To see the best of their models to choose, see our Smart and Mercedes car reviews, including the Smart EQ ForTwo electric car, which is currently available to buy.


Toyota and Lexus

Toyota and Lexus told us that their cars come from factories in many countries, making it too early to say if car deliveries will be delayed if the models aren’t available from stock in the UK. They recommend that customers speak to their retailer directly about their order.

Are these brands worth searching out? Discover how well their cars stack up in our Lexus and Toyota car reviews.

Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroën and DS

These brands say that many vehicles are available immediately for purchase, and that their authorised retailers can advise customers on the availability of any specific car to buy.

Find out which of their models are most reliable, fuel efficient and more by looking at our Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Vauxhall car reviews.

Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda

Volkswagen Group says that since the majority of its car factories have been paused for a two-week period, the uncertainty about when they will reopen means it is unable to make predictions. Restrictions in Germany are a particular issue.

It says that there are cars available in stock in the UK, but that the closure of all its UK car showrooms means it cannot currently make predictions on car delivery times.

To see which of their models are worth going for, see our Audi, Skoda, Seat and Volkswagen car reviews

 

Will the price I agreed to pay when I ordered my car be protected?

Many brands we contacted reassured us that they will honour the price agreed for a car at the point of order, even if there are then delays to delivery or they raise standard prices before your car is delivered. Of the brands we asked, these include: Honda, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Land Rover and Jaguar.

BMW and Mini told us they will protect the price of orders in the event of ‘production changes’ that lead to any delivery delays.

Volkswagen Group says queries on whether car prices will be protected in the case of delays to the delivery of cars should be directed to the retailer you bought the car from.

 

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