Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Ask Customers to Get in Line
Online Waitlists for New Models
Amid the hot market for electric vehicles, auto makers are turning to online reservation systems, which are virtual waitlists for consumers. In part, the move addresses a supply-and-demand mismatch triggered by pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions. Also at play is car companies’ attempt to replicate Tesla’s (TSLA) successful use of the practice to create buzz about new car models.
The system also reveals consumer interest in new models, which can both help automakers plan production targets and inform Wall Street of their prospects.
Car manufacturers such as Ford (F), General Motors (GM), and Honda (HMC) are using the reservation system for some of their new models. There have been mixed results. One issue is that, given wait periods often exceeding a year, the companies have been fielding consumer complaints. This leads to frustration for both customer and company.
In addition, some buyers try to game the system by signing up for more than one car, but then purchase only the one that’s first available. This can result in car companies working with inflated numbers. In some cases automakers have moved to make customers’ deposits non-refundable if the order is canceled.
Hurry Up and Wait
Consumers who want to buy a new electric vehicle may find the online shopping experience convenient. The sign-up, hosted by the automaker, lets the customer choose the dealership that will serve as their primary point of contact. Typically a refundable deposit is required, as well as a generous amount of patience.
In some cases, overwhelming demand may cause the waitlist to close to new buyers. Ford recently stopped taking additional reservations for its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck when demand pushed up against production capabilities. Consumers who have their hearts set on a particular model may have to be quick to secure their spot.
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