Custom Car Orders Could Take Months Longer to Arrive Than Expected

The way that we buy cars has changed quite a bit in the last two or three years. Pre-pandemic, pre-chip shortage, and pre-supply chain issues, it was relatively easy to walk into your nearest branded dealership and shop around for different models. Unless you wanted a very specific set of specs, you could likely find exactly what you were looking for. Today, things are different. If you’ve been hoping to order a car from the factory, be aware that you likely won’t get your new ride for a while. 

New-car inventory has dropped 70%

A row of new cars at a dealership
New cars at a dealership | Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

“A comparison of Cars.com dealer inventory now versus two years ago highlights the magnitude of the drought: New-car inventory has dropped 70% from approximately 3.4 million vehicles to around 1,015,000 from April 2019 to April 2022.”

Jane Ulitskaya, Cars.com

A shortage of new-car inventory has made it difficult for many shoppers to find what they’re looking for quickly. Some of the most popular and hardest cars to find can seem impossible to locate in your area—or even within 100 miles. 

If you are able to find what you’re looking for at a local dealership, just be sure to avoid these five worst dealer options when you’re negotiating your deal.

Custom orders are likely the only way to get the exact car you want

If you’re lucky and have your sights set on one of the easiest cars to find, you may be able to find what you’re looking for. Or, a strong relationship with a salesperson at a dealership could give you an in for locating the make/model/trim that you want in the pipeline. 

But, if you know that you want a specific model and trim with specific package options, you’re likely out of luck to just find one on a lot. Cars.com points out that “many vehicles are sold even before they arrive on the dealer lot, and the ones that aren’t don’t stay on the lot for long.”

You’ll probably need to order a car from the factory. The good news is that automakers make the process relatively easy. You check all the boxes and submit your order. However, the delivery isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Delivery dates are ‘written in sand, not stone’

Cars in production at a factory
Car factory | Amit Pasricha/INDIAPICTURE/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“Vehicle production currently hinges on unpredictable factors like factory disruptions, parts availability, microchip shortages, and other supply chain obstructions — all of which can shift the arrival date.”

Jane Ulitskaya, Cars.com

While your new car order will likely give you details like the anticipated delivery date, experts say you shouldn’t count on it. There are a number of factors that can affect how long it takes to deliver your new car, and most of them are completely out of the dealership’s or company’s hands. According to one expert, “shoppers can expect to wait two months or longer” to receive their custom car order. 

Among the important things that buyers should know, it’s taking longer than ever to deliver new car orders.

Is it worth it to order a new car in 2022?

While Gen Z and Millennials struggle to afford car loans, inventory selection continues to shrink, and custom car order delivery times stretch longer and longer, is it even worth it to order a new car? 

If you’ve got your sights set on a less-popular new car that’s in lower demand, it may be. Delivery times for lower-demand cars should be shorter than others. And if you have the patience to wait two, three, six, or more months for your dream car, it may still be the right choice for you.

Otherwise—keep searching at your local dealer lots.

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