A persistent shortage of inventory has derailed the traditional new-car buying process. Before production delays due to the pandemic, microchip shortages and subsequent supply chain disruptions, buying a car was a relatively simple process: a shopper could walk into a dealership, test out almost any model, and go home in the new car the same day. But times have changed in just two years. Today, inventory of new cars is at very low levels causing some shoppers to skip the dealer’s lot for an alternative: factory order.
Related: Can I order a car from the factory?
A comparison of Cars.com dealer’s inventory now versus two years ago highlights the scale of the drought: New-vehicle inventory fell 70% from about 3.4 million vehicles to about 1,015,000 from April 2019 to April 2022. Many vehicles were sold even before that reached Lots of proxies, and those that don’t stay on a lot for long. according to JD Power Sales Forecast56% of vehicles are sold within 10 days of arriving at the dealership and the average vehicle stays in the collection 18 days – down from 49 days in the previous year.
Inventory challenges mean finding odds exactly The car you want in storage is piled up against you, and if you find it, you’ll need to act fast. Since vehicles fly a lot, gone are the days of shopping for the best price at many dealerships — at least for the foreseeable future.
Ordering a customized car can be a solution when time is on your side. Shoppers planning to buy a new car should start the process as soon as possible with the expectation that ordering will take anywhere from a few weeks to several months (or longer) depending on the model and features.
How to order a car
The process of ordering a car starts from the factory on the brand’s website, where you can configure a car to your liking and order it through a dealer after you reach the agreed price. You can still expect to pay all the usual merchant fees, and in many cases, a deposit (usually $500 to $1,000) is required. It is a good idea to confirm whether this deposit will be applied to the purchase of the vehicle and whether it is refundable.
While the vehicle is usually delivered to a dealership, some auto manufacturers have taken the entire process online, allowing shoppers to choose home delivery. From there, wait – how long will depend on the circumstances described below.
How long does it take to order a car?
After you apply and have an application sheet signed with vehicle details and an order number to track progress, you can expect some ambiguity. Although the order sheet must contain an estimated delivery date, it will be written in sand, not stone: Vehicle production is currently contingent on unforeseen factors such as factory disruptions, parts availability, microchip shortages and other supply chain hurdles — all of which can shift the arrival date.
The exact model you choose, its configuration and even its technical features can all play a role in how long you have to wait to receive it. According to Kurt McAllister, Toyota’s Midwest public relations manager, some vehicles are more available than others, but on average, shoppers can expect to wait two months or more.
“High demand for Toyota products combined with a lack of supply has affected each model differently,” McAllister wrote in an email to Cars.com. “Wait times are longer than those traditionally experienced by consumers, so many consumers reach out to local dealerships to inquire about available vehicles. Once a vehicle is assigned to a dealer, it can take up to eight weeks or more to arrive.” When asked which models and configurations might take longer, McAllister highlighted the redesigned 2022 Tundra pickup truck and 2022 Sienna pickup truck with the standard hybrid powertrain.
Similar wait times can be seen with Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand, according to McAllister. Specific building orders can take up to three months, and updated or redesigned models are likely to take longer; Examples include NX, NXh, and LX. On the other hand, basic models like the RX and ES can only take 1-2 weeks to be delivered. “The all-new LX 2022 is the most in-demand model, which is not surprising. [That] It will be the form that the guest will have to wait for [longest] If they were to apply today,” McAllister wrote.
Three months seems like a long wait to order a car, but some shoppers end up waiting even longer. Anecdotal accounts from the editorial team at Cars.com reveal extended wait times between family and friends who ordered vehicles during a shortage of stock.
Cars.com managing editor Joe Prozek said his wife ordered a 2022 Subaru Forester Limited without any optional equipment as a company vehicle in October 2021. There was no estimated delivery date because it was ordered through the company’s fleet program, but the order status said “The application was submitted” up to a week before it arrived in mid-May – about seven months later.
Corinne Hanshaw’s associate copy editor, John Firco, ordered a 2022 Honda CR-V Touring in March. The first estimated production date for the vehicles was late May, but that time frame quickly shifted to June 8-12, then pushed back to June 21-25 with an estimated 45 days to go from factory to dealership. In early May, Vercoe was notified by Honda of a $400 price increase on any vehicle manufactured after May 1 — including his CR-V.
“The ordering experience was very clear,” Vercoy said. “I knew there was going to be a shortage of cars, and I had a reliable car, so I was willing to wait. It was frustrating to have the car lead time pushed back so many times, as well as the cost increase.” [However]It gave me the opportunity to do more research on other vehicles in the same class and compare features to make sure I was getting the car I wanted at the right price.”
Some technology features can extend vehicle demand. That’s according to Stellantis, the parent company of the Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram brands. “Vehicles with advanced software technology may take longer due to current industry limitations, including chip shortages,” a Stellantis spokesperson wrote in an email to Cars.com. The company has not commented on specific features that might cause a delay.
In some cases, the lack of spare parts has forced automakers to make some tough decisions between delaying production and making cars without specific future. For example, in mid-November, General Motors revealed that a shortage of microchips meant some of its most popular vehicles won’t have heated seats.
How to get your car faster
While there are no guarantees in the current environment, there are be A few ways shoppers can reduce the waiting game. According to McAllister, flexibility in forms and options is key; Choosing a more available model increases the odds of sooner delivery. “The Highlander is very versatile and offers great standard security features,” he said. “Availability was better than many other Toyota models.”
Some car manufacturers are taking advantage of new tools to make the ordering process faster and easier. Stellantis says it is prioritizing orders sold through the new e-shopping process, which was launched during the onset of the pandemic. For example, Jeep shoppers can use a file Brand’s online store page To prepare the car, apply for financing and order home delivery. Although the sale is still facilitated through an agency, in some cases the entire process can be done online.
“The earlier a customer begins their purchase, the sooner they can expect to receive their vehicle,” his spokesperson wrote. “Custom orders functionality has been launched on our merchant websites which allows customers to send a potential customer to their local agent and begin the process of placing an order either through our website e-shopping process Or by visiting your local agent directly. Priority scheduling is provided for sell orders, which we continue to see a significant increase in.”
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Should you order or buy a car?
If you have a flexible schedule, ordering a car gives you a better chance of getting the model and configuration you want than buying from a dealer. This is especially true for less popular configurations because dealers tend to stock vehicles that are likely to sell the fastest in a particular area. For example, a dealer in Chicago is more likely to have all-wheel drive versions of their SUV than any dealer in California. For a test drive before ordering, check your local dealer’s inventory and contact your dealer to see what’s available and available for a test drive.
If waiting to buy a car with factory order that can take months isn’t an option, buying a lot means maintaining flexibility in model, configuration and features. Shopping for a more available model—choosing a Toyota Highlander over a Sienna, for example—and getting ready to buy once you’ve found the right vehicle is the best strategy during an acute inventory shortage.
The editorial department at Cars.com is your source for auto news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s longstanding ethics policy, editors and reviewers do not accept gifts or free rides from car manufacturers. The editorial department is independent of the advertising, sales and sponsored content departments of Cars.com.
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