The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the automotive industry. The consequences of OEM and dealership shut-downs from earlier this year will be felt for months to come.
As a fleet manager, you’re likely feeling the consequences already. As you go through your vehicle ordering process for 2021, you may notice that the vehicles you need aren’t available, or if they are available you can’t get them when you need them.
In today’s article, we’ll share what you can do to improve your factory order fleet delivery times during COVID-19. We’ll also touch on the challenges of acquiring your vehicles through dealerships at this time, and how to best get what you need.
The most important factor in successful fleet acquisition
When it comes to vehicle acquisition, our foundational piece of advice has always been true, but it holds more weight than ever today:
Order early and have a contingency plan in place.
Since COVID-19 forced production line shutdowns earlier in 2020, OEMs are seeing a tremendous backlog of vehicle orders. As always, domestic OEMs are fulfilling US orders first, which means Canadian customers must wait even longer for vehicles to arrive.
To increase the likelihood of getting the vehicles you need when you need them, we generally recommend getting your factory orders for the next model year submitted by the end of October. If that isn’t possible, consider what you can do to ensure your fleet still operates while you're waiting for new vehicles to arrive. For example, our short term leasing solution is a great option for many fleets who need a fit-for-purpose vehicle for one to 18 months.
Here are some additional tips to optimize your factory order vehicle delivery times:
Keep up to date with manufacturers’ production schedules
You probably already know which types of vehicles you need to order. So we recommend researching OEM production schedules to see when the vehicles are going to be manufactured, and how COVID-19 may have affected these schedules. If you can’t access this information, reach out to a fleet management provider to facilitate the process.
Be open to alternatives if you can’t get what you want
Once you’ve reviewed the OEM production schedules, you may discover that your preferred vehicle doesn't have an upcoming production date, or that the normal production date has been delayed. This will force you to consider alternate models. But who knows? It may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise, and you might discover other models that can improve performance.
Lead times are critical: get organized well in advance
Vehicle production varies from year to year, so it’s critical to understand OEM production times. Maybe you need to do some vehicle upfitting that will provide your team with a competitive advantage. If so, you’ll need to allow for that time in the delivery cycle.
And finally, if your company policy allows for driver ordering, then you’ll need to account for the time drivers need to participate in the process. Save yourself the headache by scheduling in extra time in advance.
Getting the vehicles you need from dealerships
For those who would prefer to acquire vehicles from dealerships, it’s important to understand that the dealer stock situation always reflects the classic principle of supply and demand.
Because of COVID-19, dealers now have limited inventories, and they’re aware of current market conditions. This is reflected in the significant price increase you may be seeing, particularly in the commercial segment.
These conditions make it more important than ever to have a fleet management company support you in making purchases through a dealer. Our dealer relationships mean we can help get you the vehicles you need at lower price than if you would approach one alone.
Why consult a fleet management professional
Getting professional advice from a fleet management provider can make the factory ordering and dealer purchase processes so much easier. A fleet provider is especially valuable today, as the effects of COVID-19 have made the acquisition process more complicated than ever. Additionally, they can analyze your fleet to make recommendations for an ongoing replacement strategy that best suits your needs.
At Foss National Leasing, we have a team ready to provide strategic consultation for the ordering, scheduling, and the OEM production process.
There's a lot to consider with fleet vehicle acquisition, whether it’s during COVID-19 or more “normal” times. But it all comes down to this simple truth: new car delivery time depends largely on when the vehicles are ordered.
Keep on top of seasonal manufacturing cycles by ordering vehicles as early in the year as possible. Get your hands on OEM production schedules, so you can plan and optimize the ordering process. Plan for variables like driver input and vehicle upfitting to ensure everything stays on schedule.
And finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to a fleet management professional, who is instrumental in streamlining the whole process.