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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Most automakers will let you special order a vehicle, but few ever do outside of fleet customers. Most buyers settle for what is on the lot instead of waiting weeks or months to get the exact color and combination of features they want. Honda doesn't build like most automakers - they only build in batches of identical vehicles (same model, trim, color, etc.) once they receive enough requests from dealers for that specific combination.

Also, pricing hasn't been as good on special orders and most incentives apply only to in-stock vehicles. The pandemic has changed that - at least for Ford who is now offering incentives for customers to order vehicles.

While it is convenient and gratifying to take home a new vehicle the same day you decide to buy one, it's really a rather inefficient system that often results in buyers settling for something other than what they really want. Millions of vehicles normally sit around on lots for months at a time exposed to the elements while their batteries discharge and their tires develop flat spots. Unpopular models can sit around for more than year before they finally find a buyer. Acres and acres of land are required to contain inventory which must be washed, rotated, and maintained all the while the dealers are paying taxes on them.

If the industry shifts toward a build-to-order model, Honda may have to follow or get left behind.

 

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Wonder if I could special order a Ridgeline that had a radio that would stay on when the motor is turned off. 🤷‍♂️ LOL.

I've been special ordering domestic vehicles since 1970. Except for one ('85 Dodge B250 van), they arrived at the dealership in 30 days or less.(y)
 

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I've historically been able to find my preferred F150 tow-vehicle configuration (Supercab + 6.5' box, well-equipped mid level XLT trim) in inventory but no more - crew cab and shorter box seem to rule the dealer lots. There's also a preponderance of 20" wheels (often 'forced' with largely aesthetic packages or higher trim levels) and I'm very insistent on 18" wheels for my towing preference.

I recently had a conversation with a salesperson at the local 'Truck City Ford' dealership (part of a local 'high-volume' dealer network with lots of commercial customers) and they were very encouraging about ordering - they ran 'tailored exactly for me' build-sheet in their system, kicked out a quote with a substantially below MSRP bottom line adjustment, and invited "we'll negotiate from here".

BTW, some of y'all know I'm a fool for research/preparation and so started this all with careful independent study of Ford's Order Guide which details equipment, option bundles, and 'gig' requirements in conjunction with the online 'Build-and-Price' tool.

Based on my 'preparation' we started the quote process with my usual XLT trim and when finished adding the current options I wanted the salesgal said "Hey, I think there's a chance we can do a little better with the things you want starting with the Lariat trim". She ran that for comparison and indeed it captured everything I wanted, didn't force anything objectionable on me, and was less than the XLT. I was chagrined at myself for missing that, appreciated she caught it.

Both the XLT and the Lariat 'tailored for me quotes' were well below the MSRP of anything in regional inventory which was even remotely close to capturing the tow-related options wanted and they all involved compromises I did not want.

Lesson learned - working on a special order with a competent salesperson (one who really knows their trucks and option bundling requirements) and who is truly interested in making a deal based on customer satisfaction is a very attractive alternative to 'instant, almost but not quite what you want' gratification.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Is this one step towards removing the dealerships at the point of sale? If I can select all my options online, and I like the price, why do I need the dealer to put in the order?
I certainly hope so! I've never cared for the dealership model. I also can't remember the last time I walked inside a bank or post office or wrote a check.
 

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Is this one step towards removing the dealerships at the point of sale? If I can select all my options online, and I like the price, why do I need the dealer to put in the order?
The only reason I can agree with is service. Manufacturers need a reliable service network and they are unlikely to tolerate the kind of variance you'd get with a network of contracted 3rd-party service providers. By keeping those service outlets under the franchise umbrella, you can set and maintain standards for training, etc. that ensure a happy customer base and therefore more future business. Even if you could order direct, delivery would still have to be through a franchisee because there are pre-delivery inspections, state-specific paperwork, etc. that have to be done. The expense of home delivery is something most consumers would rather avoid.

The real reason is that car dealerships are owned by very wealthy people and they have a very effective political lobby working on their behalf. I still think you'd need a franchisee for point-of-delivery & point-of-service.
 

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I certainly hope so! I've never cared for the dealership model. ...
You of all people certainly know the extraordinary battle that would face in the Texas legislature given the TADA lobby.
 

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Im really curious to see what happens with these online only dealers like Carvana that are buying used cars at huge mark ups, when does the curve start falling the other direction and they start having a massive inventory of used vehicles that they cant move. I'm understand their business model is convenience but with places like Carmax who also do online car buying, i dont know how they will compete in the future, as a primarily used vehicle owner myself i dont need to test drive every vehicle i buy but i absolutely HAVE to have eyes on it before i sign anything, and i feel most consumers are the same way
 

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Im really curious to see what happens with these online only dealers like Carvana that are buying used cars at huge mark ups, when does the curve start falling the other direction and they start having a massive inventory of used vehicles that they cant move. I'm understand their business model is convenience but with places like Carmax who also do online car buying, i dont know how they will compete in the future, as a primarily used vehicle owner myself i dont need to test drive every vehicle i buy but i absolutely HAVE to have eyes on it before i sign anything, and i feel most consumers are the same way
I see Carvana the same way I see Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc. There are a lot of people who would rather pay more for convenience. I am not one of them. I can appreciate that it is a lot easier to buy from Carvana and the fact you get the car for a week and you can turn it back in is nice. I am sure some people justify it by seeing how much of a difference $3000 makes over a 60 month loan and thinking, I will pay $50/mo more so I don't have to deal with sales people. Again, I can appreciate that, but I am frugal, always looking for the best deal and Carvana isn't it. I suspect many are right there with me. I would rather deal with sales people and save that $3k or however much it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The only reason I can agree with is service. Manufacturers need a reliable service network and they are unlikely to tolerate the kind of variance you'd get with a network of contracted 3rd-party service providers. By keeping those service outlets under the franchise umbrella, you can set and maintain standards for training, etc. that ensure a happy customer base and therefore more future business.
Surely, you're not suggesting that service through existing dealerships is reliable and consistent are you?

Required service is neglected. Unnecessary service is performed. Vehicles get damaged.

Even if you could order direct, delivery would still have to be through a franchisee because there are pre-delivery inspections, state-specific paperwork, etc. that have to be done. The expense of home delivery is something most consumers would rather avoid.

The real reason is that car dealerships are owned by very wealthy people and they have a very effective political lobby working on their behalf. I still think you'd need a franchisee for point-of-delivery & point-of-service.
Pre-delivery inspections aren't being done properly at dealerships out of laziness and/or greed. State-specific paperwork is easily handled by computer. Transport companies will be just as happy to drop off a vehicle in front of your house as they will at a dealership. They can unload vehicles off a truck just like UPS unloads packages off a truck. If the transport truck won't fit down your street, select an alternate delivery location or pick it up at the railhead. :)
 

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I see Carvana the same way I see Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc. There are a lot of people who would rather pay more for convenience. I am not one of them. I can appreciate that it is a lot easier to buy from Carvana and the fact you get the car for a week and you can turn it back in is nice. I am sure some people justify it by seeing how much of a difference $3000 makes over a 60 month loan and thinking, I will pay $50/mo more so I don't have to deal with sales people. Again, I can appreciate that, but I am frugal, always looking for the best deal and Carvana isn't it. I suspect many are right there with me. I would rather deal with sales people and save that $3k or however much it is.

I can definitely see that, and how it isnt achoice i would make either, im always looking for the best deal and carvana is just never going to be it, i guess i can get that, they do benefit from not having to store their cars in a way that customers can browse, which probably saves lots of space.
 

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Then again, I can't imagine those car vending machines are cheap to build!
I've only seen one here and it's more of a attraction than something they actually use, but I know VW has one in Germany that's actually pretty useful for storing and retrieving vehicles
 

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I had no choice but to custom order my last Audi A4.

Pretty easy to find 2.0Turbo + quattro + dolphin grey + sunroof package (with leather) + heated seats + premium package + sports package.

But I also wanted 6-speed manual transmission, dealership couldn't find a manual transmission model equipped how I wanted it (in any color) anywhere in the US or inbound from Germany. Dealership took my order and I waited 4-months for it to be built and imported.

It was totally worth the wait. ;)

My only regret was getting a sedan, shoulda ordered an Avant.

I'd love to see Honda go to a hybrid system, build the best selling trim levels and colors in bulk, but allow customers to custom order exactly the vehicle they want.
 

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The only reason I can agree with is service. Manufacturers need a reliable service network and they are unlikely to tolerate the kind of variance you'd get with a network of contracted 3rd-party service providers. By keeping those service outlets under the franchise umbrella, you can set and maintain standards for training, etc. that ensure a happy customer base and therefore more future business. Even if you could order direct, delivery would still have to be through a franchisee because there are pre-delivery inspections, state-specific paperwork, etc. that have to be done. The expense of home delivery is something most consumers would rather avoid.

The real reason is that car dealerships are owned by very wealthy people and they have a very effective political lobby working on their behalf. I still think you'd need a franchisee for point-of-delivery & point-of-service.
They could certify 3rd party shops just like they do with collision shops. Not sure what the requirements are for those shops but no reason Honda can't set whatever standard they want.
 

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I have had good luck with dealerships and still have good relationships with some of them. I get emails from my Subie guy--who is a WRX enthusiast like me--all the time, even though I sold it 3 years ago. Someday I'll be interested in the latest version and give him a ring...

The problem with the "build-to-order" idea, which some manufacturers already use to some extent (though most "custom orders" actually result in a pre-planned build being set aside for that customer, not an actual new build) is that parts shortages especially electronics are playing havoc with that arrangement. Not to mention shipping issues.

COVID obviously really screwed things up, but it didn't create all the problems, and they haven't been fixed yet.
 

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Wonder if I could special order a Ridgeline that had a radio that would stay on when the motor is turned off. 🤷‍♂️ LOL.

I've been special ordering domestic vehicles since 1970. Except for one ('85 Dodge B250 van), they arrived at the dealership in 30 days or less.(y)
Mine does that already! Must be another Canada only feature.
 

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The dealer model compliments the no custom ordering model very well because the manufacturers offload a huge amount of their risk to the dealers. Kia is a good example of this. Right now they have one of the hottest vehicles in America with the Telluride. Dealers are desperate for any and all Tellurides they can get their hands on. The best way for the dealer to get more Tellurides allocated to their lot is to also accept a few more Souls or Rios that aren't quite so hot selling. I looked today and my local Honda dealer is down to around 20 new cars. Another Honda shop in the region is down to 3 Civics. Thats it. A big dealer I've bought from in Cincinnati has something like 135 cars. The dealers are making money hand over fist on parts and service and in turn they manage the manufacturers inventory problem.
 

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zroger73

LOL!
Got to say it. You are a piece of work dude....only Administrator I ever saw that did not like the product. Why not do a website for a vehicle you actually have confidence in? Will give you credit for one thing though. You are in the top ten best Ridgeline bashers.
 
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