Edmunds: Why you should order your next car from the factory

It has been difficult to find a new car on the market today, which is plagued by a shortage of chips and problems in the supply chain. Many dealerships look bare, and the few cars they carry may not have the options you need or are more expensive than you plan to spend. Fortunately, the experts at Edmunds have an alternative solution for you.

A factory-built vehicle ensures you get the exact vehicle make-up, color and option you want and is a little-known way to save time in tracking down the vehicle that best suits your needs. This special-order vehicle, as it is sometimes called, is usually arranged at the dealership, but for some brands, ordering online is the only way to purchase one. It is also a way to circumvent so-called market adjustments, which are becoming more and more popular these days. Although you may not necessarily get a discount with a custom order, this may be a way to get a better deal.

“I was surprised at how easy it was,” said Dillon Griffith, of Fresno, California, who ordered a Subaru outback in 2021 after being disappointed by the lack of a large-scale outback. “I sat down with the seller and he took me through the order book,” he added.

So what’s the point? You’ll need patience to go through this process, as it can take six to eight weeks for a homemade car, about three months for a foreign-built vehicle, and even longer if you want an electric car from smaller companies like Tesla, Lucid or Rivian. In Griffith’s case, he was told about three to four months and his Subaru arrived near the end of that time frame.

Here are a few things you need to know about ordering a factory car and tips on how to simplify the process.

order from bargain

The agent will be your point of contact throughout the process, from receiving your initial order to preparing the delivery. As such, choose your dealer and salesperson the way you would like if you buy a car often. Read reviews and talk to friends who have bought there to ensure you have a smooth experience.

However, not every automaker will allow you to order your car when you want it. Honda and Toyota dealers, for example, order their cars every three months. The only way you can place an order for a specific vehicle is to speak to the fleet manager who will have to place the order before it is time to place the quarterly order. Ordering an all-new car can be challenging due to the limited supply.

Order directly from the factory

This is still fairly rare as a number of states prohibit a manufacturer from selling directly to customers without an authorized selling agent. Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid are some of the brands that are currently adopting this method.

With these brands, the process is fairly straightforward. Simply visit the automaker’s website, find and configure the vehicle you want, then place your order. You will have to pay a reservation or order fee, and then wait for the vehicle to be delivered.

Helpful tips for ordering

Decide what you really want: Some vehicles will have a few options to choose from, while others can have a laundry list of options, packages, and trim levels to consider. Use the manufacturer’s configuration tools to explore what’s available.

Don’t overload the options: Checking each item in the options list will cost you more now, and when you sell the car, you’re unlikely to get the extra cost back.

Make sure the deposit is refundable: Most agents require a deposit on demand, usually in the $100 to $1,000 range. Note that if the vehicle has an unpopular configuration and you change your mind, some dealers may choose to hold the deposit until the vehicle is sold since they now have a hard-to-sell vehicle in stock. With Tesla, for example, reservations are refundable, but the application fee is not.

Settle on the price and get it in writing: You can negotiate as if the car were on a plot, but these days you’re likely to pay the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. The dealer where Griffith bought his car was asking for $2,000 more MSRP at the time of delivery, but because the seller hadn’t notified him in advance, Griffith was able to avoid the tags. On that day, he also noticed a remote area like his lotte spot with a raise of $4,000.

If you can plan ahead and be patient with the process, EDMUNDS says, ordering your next car from the factory can give you more options and possibly a better price than buying the dealer’s piece.


Automotive website Edmunds submitted this story to the Associated Press. Ronald Montoya is Senior Consumer Advice Editor at Edmonds. Follow Ron on Twitter.

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