cars

Waiting times to buy a new car have improved somewhat over the past two months, but people who want to purchase a luxury car will still have to wait a while.

Last November, BusinessNow.mt had reported that car importers were having to put customers on waiting lists as long as nine months, due mainly to the global semi-conductor chip shortage.

However, contacted again this week, various showrooms said the situation had improved since then.

“There’s been a slight improvement. Some models are now more available,” said Continental Cars General Manager Sandro Cauchi, adding that the company had been told by manufacturers that the situation should improve further by August.

“Most supply issues have been solved, although for a Mercedes you still need to wait between three and six months,” said Kind’s Autosales Ltd’s Marketing Manager Marcela Tunariu.

These statements seem to be borne out by calls to various showrooms made by BusinessNow.mt, inquiring about buying a new car.

If one wanted to buy a new SEAT Ibiza, Renault Clio or Nissan Qashqai, these would be available immediately, depending on the model.

However, if it’s a luxury car you’re after, you may have to wait a little longer, as inquiries for a BMW 2 and Alfa Romeo Giulia were met with waiting times of 9-10 months and 5 months respectively.

While the fact that Malta is a small island nation means that supply has always been an issue, the problems facing the local automotive industry are by no means unique.

Indeed, car manufacturing giant General Motors’ third-quarter earnings in 2021 were down roughly 40 per cent compared to the same period of the previous year. Beyond general disruption to operations from a pandemic perspective, it has struggled to secure the technology needed to meet manufacturing targets.

As such, the industry is also at a technological crossroads.

“We’re moving to electrification, and electric vehicles have more chip content – high-tech chip content. But because we only account for around eight per cent of the global market for chips, we don’t have much purchasing power,” said Kristin Dziczek, Senior Vice President at the Center for Automotive Research.

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