As other brands cut standard features, or halt production entirely, two car brands are turning to slimmed-down colour palettes to minimise production delays.
Exterior paint colour palettes are the latest new-car features to be trimmed back, as car makers in Europe look to keep production lines moving and reduce customer wait times.
According to reports from industry journals Automotive News Europe and Automobilwoche, Tesla and Renault have revised the availability of various options at their European factories to cut wait times and streamline production amid high demand and parts shortages.
In Tesla’s case, production of the Model Y mid-size SUV at its Berlin factory is limited to black and white exterior colours only – with customer cars optioned with silver, blue or red paint sourced from the same Shanghai plant that supplies Australia.
Doing so will also increase wait times; Tesla’s German website lists delivery between October and December for a Berlin-built black or white Model Y, compared to as long a wait as May 2023 for a red or blue Chinese-made Model Y Performance.
Wheel options also appear to factory-dependent, as the only way to receive a Model Y Long Range before December is with 20-inch optional ‘Induction’ wheels. The standard 19-inch ‘Gemini’ alloys appear to be Shanghai only, judging by their longer wait times.
Automobilwoche (via Automotive News Europe) quotes Tesla sources reporting “problems” with the Berlin factory’s paint shop since it opened in March – which could be a factor behind the decision to produce most colours in China.
Tesla has form in limiting options near the start of a production run; the Model 3 launched in the US in 2017 in one variant (with one interior colour), before the range was expanded later on as production ramped up.
The Berlin plant is slated to undergo upgrades this week – alongside similar updates at the Shanghai factory – designed to halve the time vehicles spend at each production station (from 90 to 45 seconds), according to the overseas report.
Renault cuts options, colours for 30-day delivery special
Meanwhile, Renault has rolled out a new ‘Fast Track’ program in France, guaranteeing buyers a new Arkana small SUV within 30 days of ordering, rather than the usual five-month estimate – provided they accept a set specification with fewer colour choices.
Reported by Automotive News Europe, the 30-day delivery guarantee is only applicable to an Arkana in sporty RS Line trim, with a 107kW E-Tech Hybrid powertrain, set standard feature list, and one of three colours: black, grey or white.
Buyers can pay extra for options of their choosing – but doing so wipes the 30-day delivery guarantee. Standard features include a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking and wireless phone charging.
The fast-track offer reduces production complexity and allows Renault to streamline production – making the short wait time possible. 50 per cent of orders in France last month were the fast-tracked variety.
Figures quoted by Automotive News Europe from industry firm JD Power suggest that across the car industry, 98 per cent of model trim combinations sell fewer than 50 vehicles (over an unspecified period) – and account for 25 per cent of seats.
By deduction, the remaining two per cent of configurations account for 75 per cent of sales.
The fast-track program also increases profit, as the limited-choice Arkana costs €38,630 ($AU57,700) – on par with flagship models in the standard Arkana range, forcing buyers looking for a car on short notice to spend more on a high-margin, top-of-the-range model.
Renault’s European budget brand Dacia also offers an ‘Up & Go’ program, which limits customer choice to the most popular combinations on various models – in exchange for three to four weeks slashed off the wait time.
It’s unlikely Renault’s Australian distributor Ateco will follow Europe with a 30-day delivery guarantee because – first and foremost – shipping vehicles from Europe to Australia will account much of the 30-day period, before the production of the vehicle itself is even considered.
International shipping can also prove just as volatile as sourcing parts to produce vehicles, with delays in transporting cars from factory to showroom floors common among many brands.