Fans of the BWM Mini in Northern Ireland are facing a long wait for new models with the German-owned brand one of many to be hit by parts shortages exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Motorists who have ordered the new manual Mini this year are instead being offered automatic models, which cost around £3,000 more.
Car production around the world had already been severely affected by a shortage of semi-conductors which began when economies starting to reopen after Covid-19 lockdowns.
But this year, the war in Ukraine has had a further impact on supplies of certain parts which are made there.
A spokeswoman for Mini, which is owned by BMW, said it had decided to simplify production by offering only manual models. The Mini three-door hatch, five-door hatch and Clubman models are built in Oxford, while the Mini Countryman and Mini Convertible are built in The Netherlands.
Parts which are sourced from Ukraine include wiring harnesses, an assembly of electrical cables or wires which transmit signals or electrical power. Other parts are sourced all over the world.
One motorist in Belfast told the Belfast Telegraph that she had decided to buy a new Countryman after trading in her old Mini. The new model was to go into production at the end of January, to be ready in July.
However, she said she started to get warnings of delays from around the end of April, before being told in May that only automatics would be available but at an extra cost of £3,000.
“I decided I didn’t want an automatic as it would be just paying extra for a car I didn’t want, so I just cancelled my order and got something else somewhere else.
“But this is really a first-world problem compared to the terrible situation in Ukraine although it does really show the fragility of just in time global supply chains.
“This would have been my third Mini and I have been a loyal Mini driver for a long time. But I was in a cafe telling a friend about when a man came over to me and said he’s overheard my conversation and that his wife had been in the same situation, and had been waiting on her seventh Mini.
“In the end, she got a cancellation.”
Agnew Group, which sells new Minis through its Bavaria brand, said: “There has been a well-documented shortage of component parts for cars, with many manufacturers being impacted as a result. Mini is just one of those brands.
“The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has highlighted the impact this disruption has had on the industry. It equates to almost 100,000 fewer cars built in the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
“What’s behind this disruption is a shortage of things like computer chips and semiconductors as Covid-19 production delays continue to be felt. The war in Ukraine is also contributing to the challenge as some car parts are made there, or elements of parts are produced there.
This is further compounded by a rising cost in energy prices which is a perfect storm for those in the automotive production industry.
“Few brands have been left untouched by this global-wide problem and it has impacted all of the brands we represent.
“We are always mindful of industry challenges and how this impacts our customers. We are in regular communication with our customers regarding the progress of their car or order as we receive updates by the manufacturer.”
Mini UK said: “Current circumstances, including the war in Ukraine and semiconductor shortage, are causing supply chain restrictions across the global automotive industry.
“The BMW Group has taken extensive measures to cushion the impact of the limited supplies coming to our European plants, including simplifying the MINI product offering for the time being. This is to ease the sourcing and production process so that we can continue to meet high customer demand.”