How Long Are EV Lead Times?

A guide exploring the phenomenon of long lead times for electric vehicles (EVs).

Last updated: Jul 24, 2024 3 min read

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Summary

Until recently, the demand for EVs was regularly outstripping the rate at which new electric cars could be produced, creating lead times of many months. However, EVs are becoming more readily available, resulting in little to no waiting times at all for some makes and models.

Why do EVs have longer lead times?

EVs are changing the way we drive, offering a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional petrol and diesel cars. But if you’re looking to switch your internal combustion engine (ICE) car with an EV, you might be surprised by the time you have to wait for your new vehicle. In some cases, it can even be longer than lead times for comparable ICE cars. But why?

What are the average lead times for EVs at the moment?

When ordering an EV, the time you have to wait to receive it can vary significantly based on the make and model. Generally speaking, widely sold models have shorter lead times thanks to established production lines and readily available parts. Newer models, balancing new technology and growing production capabilities, tend to have longer lead times. High-demand electric cars and models with upgraded specifications typically have the longest wait times.

Here are examples of EVs by estimated wait time:

Why are there long lead times for EVs?

With the planned ban of all new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2035 and the introduction of Clean Air Zones and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) for polluting cars across UK cities, more drivers are switching to EVs. Electric cars have improved over the years and are available at ever-decreasing price points, upping the demand for them even more. Add on top the various government incentives and grants for electric driving, and EVs have never been more in demand.

But this rapid rise in popularity presents some challenges, causing longer lead times for EVs:

  • Supply chain pressure – EV production relies on components like lithium-ion batteries, which need raw materials that are currently high in demand. This need for materials has created a bottleneck in the supply chain.

  • Scaling production – Many carmakers are still in the process of scaling up their production capabilities. Adapting existing factories to build EVs involves a lot of time and investment.

  • Global demand vs production capacity – Demand for EVs is on the rise globally. This worldwide push for electric mobility is putting pressure on available manufacturing.

Will EV lead times go down?

There are good signs on the horizon. Back in 2022, the average lead time for an EV in the UK was eight months. A year later, average lead times were down to around 5 months. Today, there are plenty of EVs on the market that you can order with very little to no lead time because production capabilities and supply chains have improved significantly.

Plus, if you want to cut the wait, buying a second-hand EV may be a good option. You can find models that are just a few months old or ones that have been on the road for a few years at a decent discount.

While you wait, why not get a dedicated home charging set-up? You can order and install an EV charger before your electric car arrives, meaning you can charge your new car conveniently and cost-effectively on day one.