What is a factory car order?

Last updated February 25, 2021

Anyone looking for a brand-new car may have heard the term ‘factory order’. Factory order cars are those that come directly from the factory, as opposed to ‘stock cars’ which are sold by manufacturers on to dealers and resellers before reaching the customer.

A factory order is a brand-new car that can be built to the specification of the owner-to-be. Choosing to go for a factory order rather than buying stock gives you the power to create your ideal car but it does often involve a lead time. A stock car is a brand-new car that has been ordered directly from the manufacturer without any input from a customer.

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Factory order vs. stock car: which should I choose?

Brand new cars aren't cheap compared to buying new. You can expect to spend upwards of £12,000 on a small car, £22,000 on a medium car and £23,000 on an SUV, according to a recent study.

The cost involved in buying a new car means that you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. Sometimes, you might be set on a specific model with certain features, like the type of transmission, interior spec, colour, or optional extras. If you know exactly what you want and can’t find it available in a dealership, considering a factory order car could be a good solution.

However, factory order customers can expect a lead time to manufacture and ship the car, which could end up being a few months. This means that if you need your car quickly, a stock car is the way to go as they will have a small or non-existent waiting period. Another option is buying a pre-registered car, which may be even cheaper than buying a stock car or making a factory order. Some forecourts will still have varieties of colours, trim levels and optional extras ready to buy anyway, so you may be able to find the car you want if you shop around.

There’s also a chance that stock cars will provide better value for money, as dealerships sometimes have a certain level of control over the price they sell it for – if a stock car isn’t selling, they might discount it.

What is the lead time on a factory order car?

There is no set time that a factory order car will take to be ready but as a general rule of thumb, the more optional extras you add to the car, the longer it will take to be produced in the factory. This could be because the extras may not fit in with the established manufacturing schedules. It may also take longer to ship the car if it’s manufactured in a distant location.

Choosing a popular model and specifying fewer options could result in a reduced lead time and it might even be possible to snap up an earlier ‘build slot’, which is the time allocated for the car to be built.

However, at best, the lead time is still likely to be a few weeks and at worst, it could be months. That means buying stock from a nearby dealership is going to be the quickest method if you need your new car in a hurry.

Can I make changes to the car I’ve specified?

Cars are complex pieces of engineering and although they’re made on a production line, complex parts and thorough testing means that the manufacturing process can be slow.

Car manufacturers need to line up their supply chain and production line with customer demand, which means that there’s little flexibility in their production schedule and generally only a short window of time in which to create your car.

This is why further changes may not be possible once your factory car specification has been finalised with the manufacturer – it can throw off a whole production line.