You’d have to have been living under the proverbial rock to have missed the fact that there’s a chronic shortage of new cars right now, and a long, long wait for delivery if you’re in the market for one.
However, what might not be so apparent is that there’s also an acute shortage of spare parts that’s causing long delays in vehicle repairs.
But if your car’s broken down right now, or needs repairing after an accident, that’s probably something you’re already oh so painfully aware of.
The bad news is that those delays are stretching some repairs out to weeks or even months.
The good news? No, sorry, there really isn’t any good news in any of this, but you can at least console yourself with the thought that if you’re in that position then you’re far from alone.
And it really doesn’t matter what make or model you own, whether it’s a Toyota, Ford, or Mazda, or something a little out of the ordinary, that parts shortage seems to be hitting all manufacturers equally.
I have a Ssangyong Musso ute that’s been sitting at the repairers for about a month for want of a fuel sender unit.
It will still be there in several weeks’ time, an immobile lump of metal at a car dealer’s yard, while my new caravan sits in the yard with nothing to tow it.
So what’s causing all these delays? Well, there are a few factors at play.
Firstly, there’s the global semiconductor shortage that’s also making new cars so hard to get and driving up prices for new and used vehicles.
Here there’s just a whiff of good news – some experts are predicting this will start to ease from the start of next year.
But it’s not just semiconductors, there’s also a shortage of plastics which is affecting the supply of such things as bumpers, wing mirrors and other body parts.
Covid is still causing havoc to supply chains globally, and this is particularly acute in China, the source of so many spare parts, and where gung-ho city-wide lockdowns have caused enormous disruption to the production of pretty well anything and everything you can think of.
And speaking of supply chains, Covid has really brought to the fore the downside of just-in-time inventory management.
Just in time inventory management is the idea that goods should arrive from suppliers only when they’re needed. That cuts down the high cost of storage and the burden of being left with a lot of parts and no demand for them.
It was a system that was fine-tuned in the 1970s by Japanese vehicle manufacturers where it worked a treat until Covid laid havoc to the efficient supply chains it’s totally dependent on.
As Investopedia points out, “For JIT manufacturing to succeed companies must have steady production, high-quality workmanship, glitch-free plant machinery and reliable suppliers.”
Lockdowns and staff shortages everywhere have exposed the vulnerability of just-in-time to unforeseen events and highlighted the need for changes.
Which is little comfort if you’re stuck with a broken-down vehicle and those repairs are stretching out to weeks or months.
Here at Fleetcare, we’re doing everything we can to keep you on the road and we’re constantly talking to repairers about parts and repairs, but we ask for your patience, because unfortunately, like everyone else, we’re at the mercy of global events that are well beyond our control.