Chips shortages mean longer waiting times for new car orders and in the UK, the year identifier registration plate is an additional complication that can cause buyers to postpone.  

Consumers wanting their new car to wear the very latest 22 registration plate, along with ongoing supply constraints, make next month’s anticipated new-car performance one of the most difficult car sales months to forecast.

Autovia , a publisher of automotive advice and insight, reports that a significant number of private new-car orders could be postponed by customers who remain attached to owning the very latest number plate.

The potential problem, highlighted in research by AUTOVIA ‘s flagship title Auto Express, is that almost half of new car buyers say they would consider postponing an order if the car didn’t arrive in time for the latest plate.

As the industry gears up for what would normally be its biggest sales month – with the arrival of the March 22 plate – research into the attitudes of Auto Express and Carbuyer readers suggests that 45% would consider postponing a new-car order if it couldn’t be delivered in time to sport the latest new plate.

The findings were confirmed separately via polling on social media, where a small majority were in favour of holding back a purchase if it were to arrive after the new plate was introduced.

Auto Express has reported extensively on the ongoing semiconductor shortage, which has led to car makers reining in on promotion as they focus on fulfilling orders from last year. Its experts say that with around 2,000 chips in each car, some models ordered now will not be delivered until 2023.

The latest findings also confirm previous research by Autovia, showing that fewer than one in four car buyers believe the plate on a car no longer matters. Back in 2016, 22% of buyers said they believed the plate to be irrelevant and in 2022 that figure stands at 22.2%.

Steve Fowler, Editor-in-Chief at Autovia, said: “March 2022 looks like being a very difficult month to predict, even in a fast-recovering market, due to many people remaining strongly attached to the thrill of the very latest plate.

“In principle it seems that a very significant minority are prepared to defer their purchases if the car cannot be registered exactly when they want.

“The emotional appeal of being among the first to have the newest plate remains strong for around one in five car buyers and many more cite the potentially higher future trade-in value they expect from owning the most recent plate.

“It remains to be seen whether a significant number of private buyers have held back orders for March but our research suggests that new plate attachment adds to the factors making it a difficult month to predict.”