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The Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford has warned the levels of new car stocks around the country are half what they were a year ago.
Consumers may face waiting times for certain makes and models, he said.
"[New car] distributors are also facing challenges predicting how much stock to order and hold," he said.
"The market has been stronger than anticipated."
Delays are caused by factories in Europe, Japan, North America and Thailand shutting down for Covid-19 restrictions in those places.
Mr Crawford said distributors normally carried three to four months of stock for vehicles and large parts — but with air freight more expensive due to a reduction in flights, cars and parts have to arrive by sea, which takes longer .
Southern Motor Group managing director Ken Cummings said he expected to be hit by the shortage of new cars in the next three months.
"All distributors and new vehicle importers are trying to get their stock as soon as possible but if the factory has been closed there is not a lot they can do about it."
"Obviously, there is a period of time before we can get it landed in New Zealand ... the next three months will be a little bit difficult for both the buying public and the dealers."
Mr Cummings had some advice for people considering getting a new car before the end of the year: "Don’t delay."
Last month, Cooke Howlison managing director John Marsh credited a boost in sales in June and July to savvy buyers getting in before certain cars might not be in the country.
"There is a bit of uncertainty around supply from overseas of new cars.
"A number of customers are realising they need to be buying now [because] they could be facing delays because there are shortages of cars coming out of foreign car plants due to difficulties overseas."
Mr Cummings said his organisation would focus on newer model used cars if new stock was difficult to get over the next three months.
"We’ll just focus on the stock we’ve got available new and concentrate very hard on obtaining more used vehicle stock to carry us through this period of time."