Buying A Car? Wait For Up To Nine Months To Get The Keys.
Customers inquiring about Mahindra Thar at M&M dealership. (Photographer: Nishant Sharma/BloombergQuint)

Buying A Car? Wait For Up To Nine Months To Get The Keys.

Harshita Das decided to buy her first car, a compact sports utility vehicle, earlier this month as her office was restarting. But she was told she would have to wait for at least seven months.

“The Nissan Magnite fit my bill,” the New Delhi-based content writer said. Since it would have taken too long, the 29-year-old considered Kia’s Sonet, another compact SUV. But even that has a waiting period of four months.

The pandemic has fuelled demand for personal mobility. But Indian automakers, recovering from several quarters of slowing sales, have not been able to keep up with supply. A global shortage of microprocessors—the brains of electronic components used to control everything from anti-lock braking to airflow systems of cars—is making a quick ramp-up difficult after Covid-19-led disruption of Chinese supply chains stalled production and sales earlier in the year.

Buyers usually get the keys within 40 days, according to Vinkesh Gulati, president of Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations. But the waiting period can be as long as eight months, he told BloombergQuint over the phone. Supply-side issues continue for the second straight month, he said.

A Kia Motors Corp. Seltos X-Line Urban Concept vehicle sits on display at the Auto Expo 2020 in Noida. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
A Kia Motors Corp. Seltos X-Line Urban Concept vehicle sits on display at the Auto Expo 2020 in Noida. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Pick Your Wait

BloombergQuint spoke to more than two-dozen dealers to find out how long will it take to deliver some of the best-selling models.

  • The waiting period for market leader Market Suzuki India Ltd.’s Brezza and Baleno has gone up to four to six weeks (Up to month and a half).
  • Customers must wait for nearly four months to get Hyundai’s best-sellers Venue and Creta delivered.
  • Tata Motors Ltd. takes 45 to 60 days (up to two months) to hand over keys of its hatchbacks and SUVs.

All the dealers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing business concerns, said the waiting period is higher mostly in the first three variants for each model.

Tata Motors said passenger vehicle factory-gate shipments recorded the highest jump in 33 quarters in the three months ended December because of preference for personal mobility, and festive and pent-up demand. Still, retail demand outstripped wholesales by 18%, according to an emailed response to BloombergQuint.

Others like Kia Motors Ltd., Nissan Motors India Pvt., and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. are seeing even longer waiting periods.

A Bengaluru-based dealer for Kia Motors told BloombergQuint that buyers have to wait up to 18-19 weeks (about four months) to get the keys of the Sonet and up to 16 weeks (four months) for Seltos—both compact SUVs.

A Nissan dealer for Delhi-NCR said the newly launched Magnite’s entry variant can be delivered only after 32 weeks (about eight months), and the dealership has received 1,000 bookings in a month after the launch. The model, according to the dealer, has received more than 32,000 bookings across India.

Buyers for Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.’s Thar have to wait for 22 weeks to 40 weeks (five to nine months) to get the SUV, depending on whether they buy a convertible or hardtop, and diesel or gasoline, Veejay Nakra, chief executive of automotive division, said in an emailed response to BloombergQuint. "I must admit the response has surpassed all our expectations and production capacities."

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd dealership. (Photographer: Nishant Sharma/BloombergQuint)

Why It's Taking So Long

Analysts attribute the situation to a better-than-expected recovery in demand.

Best-selling products of many automakers have seen demand recover much better than expected, Ashish Modani, vice president at ICRA Ltd. “Ramp-up hasn’t happened in tune with the demand.”

According to Kavan Mukhtyar, partner and leader of the automotive sector at PwC, certain models have been runaway successes, and given the negative sentiment after the pandemic, the automakers weren’t prepared. Original equipment makers, he told BloombergQuint over the phone, were also "very cautious and haven’t filled the pipe with inventory to the extent they would".

Hetal Gandhi, director at Crisil Research, however, said capacities are sufficient to service any incremental demands that the industry may see. “That means there are reasons beyond capacity constraints that are hampering the production capabilities of several OEMs.”

While the pandemic disrupted supply chains, automakers are facing a shortage of microprocessors worldwide. BloombergQuint earlier reported how the crunch may cut short a recovery for India's automakers. Globally, Ford Motor Co. has already halted production at a plant in the U.S., while its Japanese peers have cut output.

Also read: Chip Shortage Threatens Indian Automakers’ Nascent Recovery

The Tata Motors spokesperson said the firm is continuing to streamline supply chains and increase output to meet the increased demand, while addressing the availability of electronic components.

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Nakra said they have fast-tracked the process of increasing capacity at its Nasik facility and the supplier end to reduce the waiting period for customers. The capacity for the Thar has gone up from 2,000 units a month to 3,500 units in two short phases.

Muted Cancellations So Far

Long waiting periods are known to dissuade buyers. But the Nissan dealers cited earlier said they have so far seen only 3-4% of the buyers cancel bookings. A Delhi-based Mahindra & Mahindra dealer said only two to four buyers are not going ahead with their booking in a month.

Gulati of dealers lobby, however, said customers who already own a car may be willing to endure delays. For others, he said, the cancellations will rise up to 20%.

Harshita Das, meanwhile, is now willing to give up her preference for an SUV. “I’ll probably settle for a hatchback now. I need a vehicle which at least is available in a month.”

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