The 40-year-old ordered a Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid – which has a starting price of close to $40,000 – in September.
But the editor was “shocked” to discover she wouldn’t be driving it any time soon.
“I was told it would take more than 12 months to arrive,” she said.
“That was due to a shortage of chips that are being produced in Taiwan.
“I was really shocked.”
Australia has been impacted by a wider supply chain delay but the real issue with car production is a global shortage of semiconductors, which isn’t expected to ease until next year.
Why have cars been delayed in Australia?
Factories making the key component have been hit with outbreaks of COVID-19, with absenteeism impacting the number produced.
But before that, as the pandemic first hit and people started working from home, demand for the technology soared and a shortage ensued, causing some auto plants to stop production as they couldn’t obtain them.
Staff at the car showroom told Kirk the US had recalled engineers from Taiwan’s Toyota factory to compete with China by aiding its new domestic push.
“Those larger-scale politics have played into my small experience,” Kirk said.
Her current car is starting to cost her more and more money in repairs to stay roadworthy.
The wait has been frustrating, but she knows she is lucky to have transport that will hopefully last until her new one arrives.
Others have not been as fortunate.
9news.com.au spoke to another person, who did not wish to be named, about the delays they’ve been experiencing, which were complicated when their second car was damaged in a not-at-fault crash.
“I just want a reliable vehicle,” Kirk said.
She had originally ordered a Honda HR-V Hybrid but ended up pulling out after learning that car would take a year.
Kirk then realised the long wait had become standard and opted for the Toyota.
‘Patchy’ car supply improving in Australia
Had it still been operating, the local industry still would’ve been impacted by the semiconductor shortage, but now new cars need to be transported here from overseas.
The boss of Australia’s peak automotive body, which represents companies distributing cars in the local market, told 9news.com.au the car supply issue is the worst he has ever seen.
“Demand has gone up since COVID and hence factories can’t reach demand,” Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Chief Executive Tony Weber, said.
The impact of COVID-19 on factory staff has a knock-on effect across the whole supply chain.
“If the seat belt factory is hit by COVID-19, that impacts the factory and obviously you can’t deliver cars without seat belts,” he said.
But Weber said there is a glimmer of hope, with “patchy” supplies improving.
“The industry is working very hard to address these challenges,” he said.
Weber has some advice for drivers looking to get behind the wheel of their new cars sooner, like accepting different brands or finishes.
“If you’re prepared to be flexible that will hasten the process,” he said.
The number of vehicles sold across Australia is down this year compared to last, but only by under one per cent.
Almost 17 per cent more cars were sold in October this year, than in September.
There were 1,062,867 cars bought by Aussies in 2019.
That dropped to 916,968 in 2020 when the pandemic hit, with the number rising to 1,049,831 last year.
The new car supply shortage has had an unprecedented impact on the local secondhand car market.
Car manufacturers are feeling the chip shortage in their profits.
Nissan announced earlier this month its profit fell 68 per cent in the last quarter as the shortage of computer chips hindered the Japanese automaker’s ability to deliver vehicles to customers.
Toyota also said that its profit fell 31 per cent in the last quarter as the shortage offset foreign exchange gains from a weaker yen.
Ford saw its October US sales slump 10 per cent over the last year as the company also continued to battle supply chain difficulties.
Ford said earlier in the year it could not finish assembling between 40,000 and 45,000 large SUVs and pick-ups as it did not have all the required parts.
In March, the company said it would ship some vehicles without some less crucial computer chips and add them later.