Special Ordering a New Tundra – The Skinny
Here’s the deal with “special ordering” a new Toyota. Technically, it’s possible. Realistically, it’s often too much trouble to bother with.
Toyota, unlike domestic manufacturers, doesn’t build trucks to a dealer’s spec. Instead, before one vehicle is built, Toyota determines the number of red ones, the number of 4×4’s, the number of limiteds, etc. that they’re going to build. As the trucks are produced and sold, Toyota may (or may not) tweak their pre-determined production numbers based on sales rates and commodity availability. Witness the beginning of the 07′ model year — Toyota was producing quite a few regular cab Tundras in a “fleet” configuration because they anticipated a lot of fleet sales. Unfortunately, the demand for reg cabs was low, so Toyota’s first incentive was $1,000 on all regular cab Tundras.
In short, Toyota doesn’t build trucks based on orders. They build trucks based on what they want to build. It’s not a bad system — it’s been working for them for decades — it’s just not the way the “big 3” do it.
To continue the story…A Toyota dealer gets a build list from Toyota that tells them what trucks they’ll be getting in the next two or three months. If the dealer wants to “order” a truck, they make a special request. Depending upon Toyota’s pre-determined mix, the truck might be built right away, might be built if a certain commodity is in excess, or it might not ever be built. If Toyota has determined the configuration being requested isn’t something they’re willing to build, the order will go unfulfilled. Hence, the term “special order” isn’t really applicable to a Toyota. It’s more accurate to describe it as a “please make this request.”
SO, when a dealer says they’re taking your order for a new Toyota, what they’re ACTUALLY saying is that they’re going to keep an eye open for an inbound truck that matches your specs and try and fill your order that way. They’ll also “preference” an order for your truck, but that may be a meaningless gesture (as explained above). Don’t get us wrong — that’s not a slam on dealers. They’re doing the best they can with the system they have. It’s just not what people think it is.
A lot of people find that when they discuss ordering a new car with a Toyota salesperson, the salesperson seems to be uninterested. The reason salespeople walk away when a person mentions “special order” is that it can take 2-6 months for that unit to come in. Most salespeople have an attention span that is measured in minutes, not months, so they’re not interested in working hard for a deal that might not happen for a few months (if it ever happens).
So what does it all mean? Basically, if you want to order a Tundra, make sure you’re asking for something that’s “normal.” If you want a truck that’s dramatically different than every truck you’re seeing on your local car lot, your chances of getting what you want are pretty slim.
Filed Under: Buying a Tundra