How does ordering a car from the factory work?
The main reason to order a new car from a factory is to get exactly the vehicle you want. Rather than relying on whatever a dealership or third-party service has in stock, you can design your dream car. Custom ordering lets you specify your car’s make and model, color and configurations. Then the factory makes it just for you.
Another potential advantage is cost. Ordering a car from a factory allows you to pay only for the features you want, leaving off expensive ones you won't use. When relying on a dealership's inventory, your choices might be limited. If negotiation with the salesperson is an option, you could save even more by special ordering.
Factory orders typically require putting down a deposit to reserve the car. The deposit can be refundable, although this varies by the automaker. Unlike buying from a dealership, ordering a car from the factory offers flexibility if you change your mind. As long as you haven't signed the final paperwork, you should be able to cancel the order.
Ordering a car from a factory allows you to pay only for the features you want, leaving off expensive ones you won't use.
Do all car manufacturers offer factory ordering?
No. Many major automakers still require that you purchase a new vehicle through a dealership or a third-party service. But some electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, which is 100% factory-ordered, sell directly to consumers. Other brands, like BMW, will sell a special order to you, but you'll still have to go through a dealership to finalize the purchase.
Can you build your own car online?
Yes, this is possible with the automakers that offer factory orders. The online vehicle customization process differs from site to site. Some automakers will still have a local dealership manage the final paperwork and car delivery on factory orders.
How long does it take to order a new car?
Be prepared to wait for months between placing the order and receiving the vehicle. Even if you do receive an estimate, the delivery date might change. Supply chain interruptions and production delays could extend your wait further. Learn more about the best time to buy a new car.
How does car delivery work?
The process for accepting delivery on a factory order can vary but usually involves a dealership. Some automakers will arrange to have the vehicle shipped to a local dealership, where you'll go to pick it up. Others might offer to have the dealership bring the car right to you. Electric vehicle companies are an exception. When ordering a vehicle from their factory, you'll likely accept delivery at a store or service center that the company owns.
Ordering a car vs. buying off the lot
Buying a car from the factory, when it's possible, has potential drawbacks. Besides the long wait time, there's also the possibility that you might not receive exactly the vehicle you wanted if the automaker can't get the right parts from their suppliers. Your ability to negotiate on a factory order might also be more limited than at a dealership. Before buying a new car, know how much you can afford with our car affordability calculator.