Why wait? How to beat the queue for a new electric car

Shafiq Abidin


Demand for electric cars may be surging, but buyers hoping to make the switch are being forced to make a U-turn as factories face months of delays, pushing waiting times for new vehicles to unprecedented levels.

As a result, choosing which electric car you want can be tricky, which is why we will do all we can at Electrifying.com to help you select the right car to meet your needs. From new and used car reviews to our handy beginner’s guide, this article will help you decide which vehicle you should purchase in the hectic current market.

Why do electric cars have such long waiting lists?

Good question. Electric car owners are facing longer than normal waiting times for two main reasons: an order backlog that predates the Coronavirus pandemic, and the on-going conflict in Ukraine.

The pandemic saw a massive surge in orders for laptops and printers as the global population started working remotely. This wiped out existing stocks and meant that factories around the world were asked to produce more. Except they couldn't because many were forced to close because of the pandemic.

Considering an electric vehicle uses 3,000 semiconductors, compared to an average of 300 used in a petrol-powered vehicle, you can see where the issue lies. So a shortage of these, alongside a lack of computer chips globally, has had a direct impact on supply and demand.

What are manufacturers saying about the waiting lists?

Manufacturers are certainly feeling the pressures. Barely two years ago, a wait of 10 weeks for a new electric vehicle was considered excessive, but now, manufacturers are unable to provide a concrete answer. This has even led to some brands closing order books altogether, with a Citroen dealer telling Electrifying.com: ‘’if a dealer says they can build you a car within three to six months, they’re probably lying. Stock is threadbare at the minute.’’

MG, for instance, says it has now suspended orders for the new ZS EV following an ‘’unprecedented level of demand’’ for the vehicle, opting to focus on fulfilling their current order quota before potentially accepting orders again in ‘’a matter of weeks’’.

With waiting times for family vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 sitting at well over a year, a salesman at a Cupra dealership – a brand which is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group told us we would be able to get into Born much faster. ‘’Volkswagen are putting extra effort into getting these cars on the road. Since it’s based on the ID.3, which has a waiting list time of one year and two to four months, they want the Cupra badge to get more market share.’’

In comparison, a Volkswagen dealership told us: ‘’I advise all customers to be a year or a year-and-a-half ahead of the schedule if they want a vehicle desperately. We don’t think, internally at least, this is going away in a rush. It’s the new norm.’’

Ford is another manufacturer that is facing issues, with the popular Mustang Mach-E being temporarily suspended from orders so the brand can more effectively manage a heavy backlog. Ford has also had to recall an estimated 6,500 Mach-E’s due to an issue with the vehicle’s battery main contactors, potentially stretching waiting times even further.

Some showroom personnel are unable to provide customers with any meaningful delivery times. For instance, a Skoda dealer told us: ‘’We were supposed to receive demo versions of the Enyaq Coupe in August, but that’s now been postponed to a date we still don’t know. I sold two last week, one to a mother and one to a daughter, and they ordered despite not getting concrete reassurance of when it would be delivered.’’

Estimated waiting times for new electric cars, as of 16th June 2022:

Audi E-Tron: 12 months +

BMW i4: 6 months +

BMW iX: 6 months +

Citroen e-C4: 9-12 months

Cupra Born: 3-6 months

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense: 3-6 months

Fiat 500e: 4-6 months

Ford Mustang Mach-E: 12-18 months +

Hyundai IONIQ: 6 months

Hyundai IONIQ 5: 9-12 months

Jaguar iPace: 6-9 months

Kia Niro EV: 3-6 months

Kia EV6: 6-9 months

Kia Soul: 3-6 months

Lexus UX300e: 15 months +

Mazda MX-30: 3 months

Mini Electric: 6 months +

​Nissan Leaf:6 Months+​

Peugeot e208: 3-6 months

Polestar 2: 5-6 months

Porsche Taycan: 12 months +

Renault Zoe: 5 months

Skoda Enyaq iV: Coupe 9-12 months, SUV 12-15 months

Tesla Model S: 18-24 months

Tesla Model X: 18-24 months

Tesla Model 3: 6-12 months

Vauxhall Corsa-e: 6-8 months

Vauxhall Mokka-e: 6-8 months

Volkswagen ID.3: 12 months +

Volkswagen ID.4: 12 months +

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The wait for a Volkswagen ID.3 is as long as 12 months

Our top tips on how to jump the queues

Be willing to compromise on trim: 

Perhaps the most significant timesaver would be not being picky on trim and specification options, since ordering a car for a factory build will slow the process up considerably. This could extend the waiting time for a vehicle from three months to a year very easily.

A prime example of this would be the Tesla Model 3. A simple play on the configurator can yield varying results. We found that a standard white Model 3 with a black interior and 18-inch Aero alloy wheels would be delivered between April 2023 and June 2023. If the colour was changed to either red, blue, black or grey, the delivery time shortened to between January 2023 and March 2023.

Be flexible with your tech options: 

Adding new tech which requires a lot of those precious chips will slow down your order and bump you out of the queue. Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability makes no difference to waiting times when the Tesla Model 3 is concerned, but such features can extend waiting times with other manufacturers. Ordering a Jaguar iPace, for instance, with a head-up display and 360 surround cameras included, increases the delivery time from six to nine months.

Be prepared to hit the phones to enquire about stock availability:

You could walk in to a dealership and walk out with the car you want if you’re willing to accept a cancelled order or ‘stock’ model.  A common reason for cancellation is, ironically, that some customers refuse to wait longer than the delivery time they were originally quoted.

We were told there is a six month wait for a Porsche Taycan Turbo, but the 4S and Turbo S models are unavailable until the second-half of next year at the very minimum. However, showrooms do have customer cancellation Taycans available now. So, being willing to compromise in the details is the key to getting you your vehicle at a significantly sooner date than expected.

Check the net:

Many manufacturers will now offer to sell you a car directly via their website, often at a slightly lower cost or with better deals than going through the dealer network. The car maker will make more money on these as they don’t have to pay a handling fee, which means they are keen to keep this channel open. As a result they will often ‘ring fence’ stock and production which means you’ll be able to get a car faster.

Certain large dealer groups are also owned or run by the manufacturers themselves, and will rarely be ‘starved’ of stock. These sources should be your first port of call if you want your car faster. 

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