Once you sign a new car purchase contract you have to wait to pick it up anywhere between a few days and a few months. So it could be 2 days, or it could be even 6 months, or longer – it all depends on a number of factors.

Your new car is in stock

When you purchase a new car from a dealer’s stock, it may take only a few days to pick it up. Firstly, the dealer will need to get paid before they commence the pre-delivery process: registration, mechanical inspection, cleaning, etc. If you are arranging finance through the dealer, this may take only a day or two – once the finance company authorises the transaction, the dealer will get in touch with you to arrange for delivery. Month-end is usually very busy, as dealers try to hit their monthly sales targets to get their manufacturer bonuses and sales allowances, so they may not be very flexible with collection times/dates.

Your new car is at another dealer

If the car you want is in stock at another dealer, your local dealer can arrange to have it delivered to their own premises. This may take a couple of days, depending on distance. But please keep in mind that it is your dealer that pays for dealer-to-dealer transport out of their own pocket – it can be anywhere between £100 and £300 – therefore, your dealer may want to try and add this cost to the final price of the car.

Your car is at the manufacturer’s holding compound

If your new car is located at the manufacturer’s compound it is usually the manufacturer that pays for the delivery cost to the dealer, or the dealer pays a nominal price – it varies between manufacturers – so there should be no extra charge to you, and the final price should not change. The delivery from the manufacturer’s compound to your local dealer may take between 2 days and 1 week – it mainly depends how far the compound is from your local dealer and how busy the delivery company is – month end is usually very busy with thousands of cars moved around the country. Majority of compounds are located in the UK, but for some imported models manufacturers use holding compounds abroad, for example, near the port of Zeebruge in Belgium. Your dealer should have this information available once they locate the car for you, and should be able to advise the estimated delivery date.

Your new car is in the manufacturer’s “pipeline”

When your dealer says that your car is in the pipeline, it means that it actually doesn’t physically exist, and is yet to be built. Before a car is built, the manufacturer will need to create an order – this is like a purchase order from the local sales office, e.g. BMW UK head office, and it is then sent to the factory, e.g. BMW factory in Leipzig, Germany. Since not all vehicles are built to individual orders, manufacturers create thousands of these “pipeline” orders each month to ensure they have enough vehicles available in stock – most customers don’t want to wait weeks/months for their new cars. Once an order is created and sent to the factory, it may take between 5 and 10 weeks for the factory to organise all required components (just-in-time system) and eventually build the car. The good news is that your dealer will be able to give you the expected production date, and the estimated delivery date.

Your new car is a new individual order

This takes the longest, unfortunately, but it also offers you the opportunity to have your new car built exactly to your requirements.

Your dealer will take your order – and your deposit – and enter it in the manufacturer’s ordering system. The local UK sales office will then send your order to the factory, and your order will be “aligned” for production – this is a process where manufacturers create a preliminary production schedule, and orders are placed in a queue. The exact position in the queue will depend on availability of components: engines, transmissions, cloth/leather trim, LED headlights, parking cameras, alloy wheels, etc. The next step is order releasing. This is where the factory takes all the previously aligned orders and then sequences them in a particular order for their production line. At this stage the exact production date is firmed up – it normally takes between 4 and 10 weeks. And the final step is production. Once your car is built it should take between 1 and 5 weeks for delivery – it all depends on the distance between the factory and your dealer. Once again, your dealer will be able to confirm the estimated delivery date.