Car manufacturers are having to cancel orders for plug-in hybrid vehicles as demand is greatly exceeding supply of right-hand-drive models for the UK – with waiting lists of more than a year for some models.
Motoring Research understands that customers who have placed orders for BMW’s newly-launched 330e have had them cancelled by their dealership because the company’s UK allocation for right-hand-drive models has already been filled.
One poster on the PistonHeads forum said: “I’ve had the dreaded phone call from the leasing company and I am one of those who has had the order cancelled.
“They mentioned they have about 65 orders that have been cancelled by BMW. I asked for alternatives and I was told most PHEV cars have really long lead times including the Mercedes-Benz C350e, expected delivery about July/August.”
We approached BMW for comment and they admitted that demand has greatly exceeded the UK’s allocation of the 330e.
A BMW spokesperson said: “We predicted UK sales of 2,500 for the 330e this year, but the demand was much higher than we originally anticipated. We do have high demand across other PHEV models, but it’s not to the same extent as this.
“Due to very strong demand we are indeed oversubscribed on 330e. We’re working with affected parties now and will let you know more when we have it regarding future supply.”
Why are plug-in hybrids so popular?
Demand for the BMW 330e might be attributable to the upcoming change in the Government’s plug-in car grant. From 1 March 2016, it will only be eligible for a grant of £2,500 – compared to the £5,000 grant if customers order before this date.
It could also be influenced by the Government cancelling its planned lifting of the 3% BIK tax supplement for company car drivers. George Osborne announced in his autumn spending review that drivers of diesel company cars will continue to pay an extra 3% in tax following “the slower than expected introduction of more rigorous EU emissions testing”.
Could Dieselgate be driving demand?
In the wake of the Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that registrations of diesel cars are remaining stable, but petrol and alternative-fuel vehicles are increasing in popularity.
Registrations of petrol hybrids grew by 44.1% in January to 3,783 cars, while plug-in hybrid demand grew to 1,592 vehicles – a rise of 32.3% compared to the same time last year.
UK Volkswagen sales were down by 14% in January, but it isn’t all bad news for the firm. Rather than ordering diesel Golfs, it seems that many are looking at the hybrid alternative.
A Volkswagen spokesman told Motoring Research: “Last year we took around 2,500 orders for Golf GTE, and that number is expected to grow appreciably through 2016. Demand comfortably exceeds supply, although we have, of course, adjusted production to accommodate that increasing demand. As such, the time between order and delivery is now an estimated 15 weeks or so.”
Order books for the plug-in hybrid Passat GTE are yet to open in the UK, but demand is expected to be equally strong for the plug-in hybrid saloon.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is credited for being the car that caused the boom in plug-in hybrids in the UK. The company sold 11,786 Outlander PHEVs in the UK last year – and it says it has no problem fulfilling orders in 2016.
Mitsubishi Motors in the UK Sales Planning & Analysis Manager, Joe Sutton, said: “We don’t have any volume restrictions imposed on us by Mitsubishi Motors, hence most variants/colours of the Outlander PHEV are currently available with no additional lead times outside of normal preparation and delivery times.”
Mercedes-Benz refused to comment on the lead times for its C350e – despite rumours that it was also struggling to meet demand.