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Ford Authority

Majority Of U.S. Car Buyers Okay With Ordering Vehicles

As Ford Authority reported last April, a recent study found that more than one-third of new vehicle shoppers were fine with ordering their next ride rather than purchasing one from a dealer lot, which is good news for Ford, in particular, as the automaker continues to shift toward more of a build-to-order business model. Meanwhile, Ford’s retail orders rose sharply in 2022, posting a 69.6 increase year-over-year and coming in at a whopping 329,000 units. Now, a new study from S&P Global has found that even more U.S. car buyers, specifically, have warmed up to the idea of ordering their next new vehicle, too.

This data comes from S&P’s most recent Vehicle Buyer Journey survey, which contains the responses of 1,450 consumers in the U.S. over the past 12 months. It found that 56 percent of American-based car buyers would be willing to wait more than one month for the delivery of an ordered vehicle, while 30 percent would be willing to wait more than three months. Additionally, most surveyed consumers indicated that they prefer to complete this process online – 60 percent – while 76 percent were willing to select a dealership further away from their homes if the retailer allowed for more online purchase and/or comparison options.

Though this marks a significant change in the way consumers want to purchase their next new vehicle, some things can’t be entirely replaced, it seems – including the good old fashioned test drive, which 82 percent of respondents said they want to complete before purchasing a vehicle. However, most would prefer to complete that test drive at their home or office, rather than a dealership. Ultimately, as S&P Global points out, much of this shift in consumer behavior stems from the pandemic.

“We have seen that COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior. The key is what the lasting changes will be,” said Treffen White, director of consulting for S&P Global Mobility. “The dealer network of the past is not necessarily the network the industry will need for the future. Having the right digital tools will be more important than the size or appearance of the showroom. And this will impact how OEMs plan their physical locations for dealerships.”

We’ll have more on retail order trends soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for comprehensive Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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Comments

  1. John

    I don’t mind ordering one, but will not pay ADM. Ford needs to get their dealers under control.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      That will come as ford moves to fewer retail points, online ordering and prices fixed by HQ.

      In the meantime, the markups are reflective of short supply and dealers trying to cover operational costs or pad profits.

      Reply
    2. John

      There’s nothing Ford can do. Sticker is a suggested retail price. Dealers can charge whatever they want. Check around, this isn’t a problem specific to Ford.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I do not want to order. Will pay MSRP [or less] for a new vehicle, but I want to look at and test drive the exact vehicle I will end up owning before saying yes. Regardless of what the automakers think, brand new vehicles are regularly delivered with issues (broken trim, misaligned panels, interior squeaks and rattles, missing parts, etc.) Until they can get their quality control/defect rate down to almost 0 I would never trust a special order. Tried it once and got burned. Never again.

    Reply
  3. Birdman 02

    One to three months is OK. That is pretty much normal and what I expect. We waited about that length of time for my wife’s Escape and my F150. But I have a friend who has been waiting since December of 2021 for a Maverick he ordered. That is inexcusable.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      I think once things get ironed out, the average wait will be under a month like it was in the olden days.

      Reply
  4. Greaser

    Hmm, 1400 people surveyed out of 209 million adults in the US. Hardly a representative survey INMO

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      Representative samples if done well are representative, with error rates under 5%.

      Reply
  5. Michael J Genzale

    Interesting turn of events, for various reasons. When I first got into the retail auto business as a salesperson for the long gone Oldsmobile in the early 80s, most buyers came in with a ‘laundry list’ of options to place an order expecting the 6-8 week wait. Back then GM still had the mix and match endless combo of build variety. The imports, especially the Japanese brands the ‘options’ weren’t ‘options. You chose a model designation to get the desired equipment. Simple. The domestics eventually followed a similar path to cut cost of production and raise build quality.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      I don’t think we’ll get back to the long retail sheets of the 70’s, rather it will be a hybrid model, with trim level and option features as combo packages Japanese style and the customization more in the area of color, some trim items or limited add ons (the add ons possibly being priced to encourage a buyer to move up a trim level.)

      Reply
  6. Brad Barefoot

    Maverick … Ford how can a customer place an order without even a vehicle to look at, sit in, feel it out, let alone a test drive. Written this before, will again … move Maverick production to a stand alone facility to fill orders. Yesterday … I went to the local Jeep Dealership and played customer looking at a ’23 2-Door Wrangler (and liked it) and played 20 questions with the sales person, and person who actually orders vehicles … 2-Door Wrangler, Blue, Sport Model, sat/radio, nav, a few accessories … 6 to 7 weeks … not months. And they are dealing, $2,000,00 discount for being a new Jeep Customer up front … had the White Wrangler had the nav/system I’d be tempted. And Ford, I’d testify to this in a courtroom … you’re ging to lose business.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      Boy, it sure is hard to disabuse you of the idea that car plants are not like plants, nor are assy lines, nor tools, because they just aren’t sitting around empty nor do they grow on trees.

      Reply
  7. Michael J Genzale

    There are still plenty of dealers of all brands willing to take factory orders at MSRP. These are the smart dealers that know ‘turn and earn’ is the ingredient to volumn henceforth profit. Vehicle comes in and goes right out, a ‘replacement’ unit earned from the factory.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      Agreed.

      The “earn a bit less on every one but make it up on volume” is a thing.

      At the end of the day, cars or Doritos, the “eat all you want, we’ll make more is true.”

      Selling more cars earns factory bonuses and better allocation. I’m always amazed at the small dealers that don’t realize this.

      Reply
      1. Jim Smith

        What isn’t obvious is that the small dealers often can’t finance a bunch of cars, so they can’t just fill the lots with a ton of vehicles and sell them cheap. It takes a pile of money to set it up. And if the cars don’t sell, then they’re paying the loans to keep them on the lot and may not have the cash flow to cover it.

        What you’re not seeing public right now is that there are literally factory new cars and trucks at the car auctions. Some dealers are in such deep trouble with the new cars sales falling off a cliff that they are auctioning new cars to move them out. Meaning they really can’t sell them even at steep discounts. Other than select high demand models, car sales are dead right now.

        Reply
  8. Njia

    A BTO model is fine if you can deliver to anything like a predictable time frame. Ford can’t even tell a customer with any degree of confidence IF a product will be built to their specification, let alone WHEN.

    Reply
    1. RWFA

      Well it’s only a problem if you are comparing current state to future state as you are.

      Reply
  9. jon

    Well, it’s not like we have a choice

    Reply
  10. Meta

    I would definately prefer to order my next vehicle rather than settle for what’s on the lot or have the dealer locate a vehicle from another dealer! This way you get exactly what you want, or what’s available with the package you would like! (rapid spec) However, if the dealers start having a low inventory hopefully there are enough variations of model packages and especially any new colors so that customers can SEE and FEEL the difference in each package and model!
    Remember…..”The BEST Never REST”

    Reply
  11. Tom

    Ordering is great, when it works. The whole Bronco ordering experience has been a debacle, and that is underselling it. Not adhering to reservation and order date order. Incompetent dealer personnel who are required to complete the ordering process. Antiquated IT and ordering systems. Lack of communication on orders. Need I go on. I directly ordered a Testa four years ago, and that process was almost flawless. If my Bronco order was half as trouble free I probably would have a much higher opinion of the Ford brand.

    Reply
    1. John

      Had you ordered any Ford product four years ago, the process would have been flawless as well. Even today, most of the product line can be ordered and received in a respectable amount of time.

      Reply

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