Since 2020, automakers have struggled to launch their new vehicles on time. Car makers are shifting to building electric vehicles, and the global pandemic upended the supply chain. Both developments have led to a noticeable increase in delays for new vehicle launches.

A new report from PwC Consulting discovered that 34 percent of vehicle launches faced production delays in 2023. Another 21 percent suffered delays “due to other factors,” accounting for more than half of the new vehicles expected to go on sale this year. PWC calculated production delays – workforce constraints, meeting quality standards, and supply chain issues – by comparing the actual production start date with the planned start of production.

According to PwC’s analysis, delays can cost an automaker about $200 million annually. That could translate into $30 billion to $50 billion in losses for the entire industry. In 2018, only five percent of launches faced production delays, while another 18 percent suffered setbacks from other factors. Those numbers were zero and 13 percent in 2017, respectively.

Despite the uptick in delays since the pandemic, 2023 also saw automakers successfully complete 45 percent of their launches, the most since 2019, when half of the new cars arrived on time. It dipped to 30 percent in 2022, when 39 percent of launches faced production delays. Automakers launched 77 percent of its new vehicles as scheduled in 2018 and 87 percent in 2017.

The report identified several culprits for the delays. Big ones included new electric vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, and software. Automakers are doing more, stretching resources, navigating a changing industry, and venturing into new businesses.

Returning to a time when no new vehicle suffered a production delay seems unlikely. PwC’s report expects production setbacks to increase through 2026 as automakers plan to introduce nearly double the number of electric cars by then. The consulting firm expects companies to delay 20 to 40 percent of launches between now and 2026.

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