The normal car buying experience—the one that existed before Covid—was fairly cut and dry, albeit sometimes an ordeal. Covid upended the supply chain and it helped to cause a shortage of microchips in the auto industry, which also caused a crunch in supply.
While other factors also contributed to the chip shortage, the result is still the same. Buyers might face limitations in the vehicles they can find, and electric options also might not be as plentiful. Car buyers are waiting for electric vehicles, putting their names on a list, and making a down payment. Yet, some models haven’t formally debuted.
When choosing electric, should buyers get on the list? Here’s what’s going on in the electric segment.
Is Electric Electrifying the Market?
Every year, Car and Driver rounds up the 25 best-selling vehicles. In 2021, only one electric model made the list: Tesla Model Y. Car and Driver also released the best-selling models so far in 2022, and, this time, two Tesla models topped the list. The Model 3 also ranked as one of best-selling models.
However, the 2022 model year also ushered in the debut of several popular new electric models. Ford released its F-150 Lightning pickup. The model offered a starting price of $39,974. It proved to be so popular that the manufacturer is no longer accepting orders.
Ford also released a hybrid pickup called the Maverick. The small pickup was the least expensive hybrid available, with a starting MSRP of $19,995. The Maverick also was so popular with buyers that it, too, is no longer available for orders.
Tesla announced the release of its electric pickup truck called the Cybertruck a few years ago. While the manufacturer is still accepting orders, the Cybertruck has yet to be completed. Customers who placed orders for this uniquely designed pickup are still waiting for their truck.
Rivian, which is a smaller electric vehicle manufacturer, offers two different models—the Rivian R1T and the Rivian R1S. The R1T is a pickup truck, while the R1S is an SUV. For these vehicles, buyers cannot simply visit a dealership and procure an electric model; once again, they need to place an order, and, essentially, wait for their truck or SUV.
Pre-orders or online orders are seemingly the norm for many electric models. Tesla offers online orders or pre-orders, Rivian and Lucid also use this process.
Lucid Motors offers the electric vehicle with the longest range on the market. The Lucid Air Dream has a starting price of $169,000 and an estimated range of 520 miles. Unfortunately, buyers who want the vehicle with the longest range are now out of luck. Lucid is no longer accepting reservations for the Air Dream model.
Why Reservations and Wait Lists?
An article from the Wall Street Journal talked about the reservation and wait list trend for electric vehicles, noting in the headline that manufacturers state that it could help them better understand buying interest.
Car buyers eyeing an electric model might wonder if they should get on the wait lists and place a reservation. With the chip shortage and perhaps the rising demand of these vehicles, placing a reservation could be a wise move.
However, reservations might require that buyers make a down payment. Sometimes that down payment is quite significant. For example, Tesla is taking reservations for its new Roadster model; the vehicle has a price estimated to be $200,000 and reservations require a base payment of $50,000.
Those who are in a financial position to make a reservation might join a group that secures a sought-after new electric model. Again, buyers who now want popular models like the Lightning are out of luck, but those who placed reservations early will likely be driving around in the new electric truck.
How Long is the Wait?
There is one problem that might plague buyers who get on the waitlist. For some models, the wait could be extensive and it might not be defined. There could be issues during production, and the chip shortage could further exacerbate the wait time.
Buyers who reserved a Cybertruck are still waiting for their vehicles. In fact, Torque News reported that models now aren’t expected for delivery until 2023 or maybe even 2024. The site also reported that the Cybertruck is sold out through 2027.
Those who make a reservation for a Cybertruck now won’t see their vehicle for perhaps five years. Is the wait worth it? For buyers who really want the sleek new truck, the answer seems to be ‘yes.’
Are All Electric Models Subject to a Wait List?
Car buyers who are focused on securing a new electric model don’t necessarily need to place a reservation or add their name to a wait list. Many car dealerships—and major brands—offer new 2022 electric vehicles.
The Cybertruck, Air Dream and Ford Lightning aren’t the only three options. However, buyers might be limited to the options at the dealership; some may lack specific features or they might be a color that isn’t the first choice of the buyer.
Dealerships have likely been contending with the issue of vehicle shortage for a while now. The vehicle shortage is forcing buyers to make concessions on what they want. Dealerships may be making it clear to buyers that the vehicles on the lot are the options available—it could be a take-it-or-leave-it reality.
How do dealerships handle the customer who has been impacted by closed reservations and even a possible supply issue related to electric models? Some manufacturers could still accept orders for specific models; this allows the buyer to select the color they want, plus other features, too.
Unfortunately, not every electric vehicle is going to be easy to procure—for the buyer or for the dealership. Some buyers might face the fact that they can’t order an electric Lightning. Others could make the decision to purchase another electric truck or they might add their name to the Cybertruck wait list.
Will 2023 Offer More Models and Choices?
Buyers could be holding off a purchase until 2023 models are introduced. Some buyers might have given up their hunt for a specific electric vehicle and are looking at future models.
There will be several electric models making their debut in 2023. The Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup is scheduled to debut in fall of 2023. Chevrolet is currently still accepting reservations; those who missed their chance to drive off in a Lightning could own an electric Silverado.
Dealerships also could have pre-owned electric models on their lot. Buying a pre-owned electric vehicle could be an option for buyers who want to embrace the electric experience and ditch the gas pump.
As more models are announced for 2023 and beyond, though, dealerships might stress to buyers the importance of making their decision. If the chip shortage continues and the supply chain remains stressed, waiting likely won’t be an option.
Those who want a new electric vehicle might need to make their reservation, put their money down and wait. Those who can’t decide if they want to make that purchase might be waiting another year for the next model.
The auto market might not always rely on reservations and wait lists for electric models, but, for now, this could be the norm.