A salesperson shows a new vehicle at a dealership on the coast. File photograph. / SALVADOR SALAS

Global computer chip shortage stalls the new car market in Spain

It is estimated that some 150,000 people are waiting, in some cases up to six months, for their new vehicle to be delivered


It is estimated that up to 4,000 people in Malaga province alone are waiting for new cars, they have reserved or bought, to be delivered. The global shortage of computer microchips means that the delay many customers face can add up to six months, or even more in some exceptional cases. The worldwide shortage is affecting almost all motor manufacturers, although to a lesser extent those in Asia.

“I signed the contract in November but they have told me that it will not be delivered until at least April," one businessman from Malaga told SUR. The worst thing, in his case, is that his old vehicle had suffered a serious breakdown and he sent it straight to the scrapyard, "so until they get me the new one I have to share a car with the rest of the family," he said. As a short-term solution he even considered something second-hand but was "surprised" that the prices of used vehicles "have skyrocketed".

Six months

After successive costly breakdowns, María Ruiz, a bank employee, went to a dealership and chose a new model that had just arrived on the market. "From the outset, they recommended one with fewer extras because the top-of-the-range model would take at least six months to arrive," she explained. Initially she was told the wait would be four months, but recently the dealership called her to say it would be delayed. Her problem is that she had already sold her old vehicle and now she is car-less.

No deliveries for several months

Although there is no official data, Carlos Oliva, president of the Malaga Automotive Association, an association of motor dealers, estimates that between 3,000 and 4,000 cars are currently on order and waiting to reach their owners in the province. It is believed that nationally the number is around 150,000 undelivered units.

"There are manufacturers who have not been able to deliver a car for several months," he acknowledged. "There are factories with car parks full of unfinished vehicles because their microchips are missing, and they have had to stop production."

Overall, Korean, and some Japanese and American, manufacturers are coping with the crisis better than Europeans, because they have more access to microprocessor production.

Varying delays

Juan Peña, manager of the Ford Garum Motor dealership in Malaga, admits that they have 250 cars sold pending delivery, which are expected during the early part of 2022, although it will depend on the models and equipment levels: "Some take longer than others." However, the manager is optimistic and in the case of his brand, he said that since November production has already been recovered, after having increased the microchip supply capacity. "The good news is that the supply level is higher and the deadlines are being shortened."

However, Carlos Oliva is not so optimistic and estimated that the supply crisis will last at least until the summer of next year, when it will begin to stabilise and return to normal in early 2023.

“To everyone who wants to buy a car I recommend that you make the decision a few months in advance because it will be very difficult to find something to your liking with immediate delivery.”