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How do you ORDER a Prius?

6888 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  patrickg
It is, in fact, a trick question. You can't ACTUALLY order a Prius. Your dealer can't even order a Prius. You can make a request for some specific color and accessories but whether or not those accessories are even available in your region is up to the whims of Toyota.

Toyota ships whatever they choose to ship in whatever color they choose, configured with whatever accessories they decide. There are port and dealer options that you can control in that you can add them or not add them to whatever car you might decide to accept.

There is absolutely no such thing as ordering a Prius from Toyota either by a customer or a dealer. Toyota ships allocations to dealerships. If an allocated car happens to be offered to you and it happens to be the color you want and happens to have the accessory package you want it is like winning the lottery, not real likely but wonderful nevertheless.

This is why so many in our ranks didn't get first choice and so many of us still waiting may opt to "just take something" to get it over with.

I'll wait for what I want (#9) or defect but will not accept any other package. Color is negotiable and I could accept 6 of the 7 colors, just not black.

If anyone has factual information that materially conflicts with what I have set down, please jump right in and let us hear it. I wish the situation were better than I describe but that is the consensus of opinion from a couple general managers of dealerships with whom I have had discussions. Maybe Toyota gives better treatment to some other collection of states but this is the status quo in my 5 state Toyota zone.

:D Pat :D
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I think you're right on the money. My original preference for silver or black with AM package (7), placed back in August has now arrived in white with package 6. Dealer got info on next allocation, one black with 9. I've decided to wait until 2005 model year arrives. Better luck with your situation.
This is getting real disappointing. Who is to say the same thing wont happen next year. I "ordered" mine over a month ago with the understanding that it would take up to six months to get. I was and am fine in waiting. However I will not accept any subsitutes. Not to color not to package anything. I get new cars every 7-8 years so I want what I want. Will accept nothing less. If they tell me I cant have what I want I will go elsewhere and probably never by a Toyota product.
Pebble Beach said:
I want what I want. Will accept nothing less. If they tell me I cant have what I want I will go elsewhere and probably never by a Toyota product.
You do realize that by going somewhere else and getting a different car you're still not getting what you want--right?

For goodness sake folks, look at the big picture and step outside this thing a little bit. You'd boycott Toyota for life b/c they're producing the most technologically advance car on the face of the earth that you've fallen in love with and would love to have, but if you can't have it right now and exactly how you want it you're going to become passive aggressive and boycott them for life? How on earth does that make sense to you. How will that improve your situation? Do you think it will 'teach Toyota a lesson' or something? Don't you think they WISH they'd accurately anticipated the demand for this car and were immediately up to the task of meeting it? Or do you think this is some kind of ploy that they think will somehow work in their favor and you're going to show them who's boss?

I'm not trying to be mean to you. And I can understand that it is frustrating to wait and have to deal with all the distribution issues going on right now. But just b/c you can't have exactly what you want when you want it and in the color you want doesn't make Toyota a bad company deserving of your rebellion, nor does it make the Pruis a bad car. Just the opposite, it's a bizarre tribute to both of their quality.

Now, that may not help your current situation I grant. If you are in dire immediate need of a car then you are more than justified in looking elsewhere for something that immediately suits your needs. But to start some lifelong vendeta against Toyota or the Prius or both is just juvenile rebellion. Do you think Toyota is going to read this and just say "Oh ****, Pebble Beach is about to jump ship, let's ship him/her a car right away." No, they can only produce cars as fast as the manufacturing process that is in place and as fast as their suppliers can go, and no faster. They've already announced a 31% increase in the '04 production which should, to some degree, help relieve the imbalance of the current demand/supply issue, but probably not completely.

Remember, there were, prior to the '04, only about 100K Prii on the road, with 47K '04s that will increase the number by almost 50%--in less than one year!

Do what you need to do, demand what you feel you have a right to--that's great. But please don't blame Toyota or try to defame the Prius just b/c you can't have the immediate gratification of getting one immediately. I assure you that Toyota greatly regrets their underestimation of the success while they simulataneously bask in it. They'll still be a good car company and the Prius will still be a great car when the temporary frustrations of these delays are long forgotten.
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I am under no illusions that Toyota did not develop a master plan to piss off as many potential customers as possible, (although they probably couldn't have done a better job of it) and that they don't care how many individuals are upset with this process as long as they can sell the vehicle to the next name on the waiting list.

What upsets me the most is that the allocation system was not explained to me at the outset by the dealer. Thus the reason for all the unrealistic expectations. Silly me for actually expecting the car to come with the option package I requested and painted the color I wanted. I guess I shouldn't have assumed that I could do that with the Prius, like I had with every other car I've purchased. Had I been informed of the process when I ordered, or as I now know, preferenced my request, I wouldn't be so upset.
efusco, I appreciate the post, and can ensure you I am not mad, althought it may have seemed that way.

I have NO problem waiting. When the dealer told me it would likely be a six month wait I said no problem. More than willing to wait for the car I want. I even said to the guy that clearly Toyota underestimated demand.

Again no problem whatsoever in waiting. I more than understand supply and demand.

That being said I will not be thrilled if I wait six months, and then am offered a car I dont want. Some crazy color or package I dont want. Especially as veggievet pointed out nothing like this was ever explained to me before (as far as not getting what you ordered).My first reaction will be to ask how long will the wait be for what I do want. If its another three our four months I will wait. My current car runs fine. If the reaction I get is take it or leave it there is no other option then I will look elsewhere.

Toyota is perfectly free to do business the way they want (within the law of course) and I am free as a consumer of exercising my right to go elsewhere. I would reacte this way if it was another car company too. Its nothing against Toyota. Have said nothing bad about the Prius and won't. Why would I? Thats the car I want! Cant understand where you get the idea I was defaming the Prius. Think you read far too much into my post.

There are other cars I would take if I have to get another and they arent Toyota. My first choice is of course the Prius and again will wait for what I want.

If I cant have it I will try getting another car I want. Its not about threatening anyone, its about being satisfied. If that maker cant provide the car, option, color I want, then I will keep looking. Dont think I am being unreasonable or demanding. Again I get a new car every 7-8 years so its important for me to get something that I am completely happy about.
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getting a Prius sooner

Others have suggested that you call
as many Toyota dealerships near
you as you're willing to visit.
Supposedly some of the smaller
town dealerships have a better rate
of having a Prius that meets your

If you cast a wider net with multiple
dealerships, then you may have a
greater chance of the car of your
choice appearing at one of them and
there's no one in front of you in
waitlist who'll settle for it.
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Just a couple points and I'll shut up and let you vent your frustrations in peace!

1)I don't think it is entirely fair to hold Toyota responsible for the behavior of your dealer.

2)I think a lot of dealers were caught off guard as well, they figured that like the other cars on the lot they could take your request/order and would more than likely be able to get the car you want in a timely fashion. When it became clear that the demand was so great they had to back pedal. Not making excuses, and there ARE some bad dealers out there, but that's true for GM, Ford, Honda, Saturn, BMW, etc too. Ditch the dealer not the manufacturer.

3)You stated that you never had trouble ordering the exact car you wanted before this. Let me assure you that this process is not at all uncommon, particularly with foriegn manufacturers. Most of the time when supply is greater than demand you CAN get exactly what you want in a pretty short time period b/c dealerships swap allocations to meet their customer's needs. But still there is not a process for ordering the car you want and then the factory builds it. We experienced this same thing with my wife's Honda Accord years ago. This is not a novel situation, what makes it difficult is the lack of surplus to make the process of trading allocated vehicles possible.

4)You repeated that you just want to get the CAR, package and color you want. And that is fair and reasonable. But, what I can't wrap my head around is the fact that rather than accept a different color you'd rather accept a different car?! I just can't understand the logic there and that's where I jump to the conclusion that there is a bit of a passive-aggressive revenge factor involved. Let's face it, you can't even see the outside of the car when you're driving. Sometime people just have major aversions to one color or another and that's their right, but when the color of the paint becomes more important than the vehicle it is protecting then I think the priorities have gotten out of whack.

5)I'm more than willing to bet that if you stay the course, keep your eyes open and stick to the 6 month window you were told about that you will get your car--exactly how you want it. Production is ramping up, others will necessarily cancel their order as their need for a new car increases their despiration. If you can re-evaluate the import of the exact color you want and compromise just a little on that it will also help. And just check around. Send e-mails to a number of dealerships. Tell them what you want, what you're willing to pay, that you're a serious buyer and see what they can do.

This is a fairly unique situation. Cooler heads will prevail and those folks will get what they want. I wish you both the greatest of luck in getting your Prius, as a current driver I promise you it's worth the wait (I waited 6 months after putting down my deposit too, albeit knowing it would be at least 4-5 months before it came out). I guess I just want to defuse some of the generalizations and such. Toyota's a good company doing a good job and producing something that no one else even has the guts to take on. They've made a huge investment in this project that seems to be about to pay off well. If they've made a mistake in their estimates and marketing/distribution strategy can't you see your way to forgiving them that? If you need to take revenge on your local dealer if they decieved you, then by all means walk out on them, but not Toyota or the Prius, at least not for the wrong reasons.
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Again, I think you are reading far too much into my post. It is clear you are very passionate about Prius, which is great. But at the same time I think you are seeing things that aren't there. I am not in any way defaming the car. I have been excited about getting this car as soon as I heard about it a year ago. Have heard the wisecracks from many of the naysayers (the typical SUV guzzlers around the office).

I am not angry with Toyota and I am not angry with my dealer. I LIKE my dealer. He was honest enough to tell me six months when some of the others were saying shorter (even though they couldnt deliver). Its a small dealership and not one of the big dealers or auto malls.

I am perfectly content waiting six months and fully expect to get the car I ordered. Am even willing to wait additional time to get the one I want.

I am just concerned by some of the things I have been reading. If I was offered a take it or leave it deal ( I DONT expect that to happen) I would not accept a car I didn't want. Thats all I am saying. I would go to my next choice (which is not a Toyota). I am very confident it won't come to that and am greatly looking forward to my Prius. I am one of the biggest Prius supporters around, you wont ever get me to say anything bad about it.
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Pebble Beach said:
I get new cars every 7-8 years so I want what I want. Will accept nothing less. If they tell me I cant have what I want I will go elsewhere and probably never by a Toyota product.
I guess I'm still hung up on this statement, if I'm reading too much into that then I'm sorry for over estimating your ire.

Second, I think, perhaps, you're unduly defensive about the concept of being offered something you don't want on a 'Take it or leave it" kind of deal. What most people are talking about here is that the dealer knows what you want/requested, but something different comes in and they're giving you first shot at it even though it's different. By declining that in no way removes you from the list or lowers you on the list (at least honest dealers won't). The 6 month time-frame you were given is for the car you requested. They're simply trying to provide you an opportunity to get a car sooner by offering you something less/different. Most people have been thrilled by that opportunity and it caused them to reconsider their priorities and whether they wanted to continue to wait or take what they could get sooner.

The best way to head off any confusion/frustration is just to get in touch with your salesman on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Reiterate to him that you're still in the market, still want package X in color Y and not to bother him/herself with calling you with any other cars--that he/she should go ahead and offer it to someone else. Also tell him/her that you'll call and let them know if you decide another color or package is acceptable.

Finally (God, let's hope, huh!), I am pretty passionate about the Prius, but what stirred my passion in this thread was the logical disconnect I perceived with saying that if you can't get a Prius in the color you want you'd sooner go to a different car and never consider Toyota again. I'll never say you don't have the right to do that, but I will say that I wouldn't respect you for making that decision without thinking through the entire concept of priorities, how one could accept a totally different car just b/c you couldn't get your prefered color in the car you really want just eludes me.

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I am total agreement with Pebble Beach. To address Dr. Fusco's points:

To 1 and 2, dealers were left out in the cold when it came to letting customers know how the 'ordering' process worked because Toyota left them out of the loop for too long. By the time they 'back-pedaled', there were a lot of confused, if not upset, potential customers.

To point 3, I will say this is untrue in my last experience. I bought a MINI Cooper in May 2002; another very hot car at the time (and still is). I test drove the vehicle, considered options and packages for a week, placed my order and received my car just the way I ordered it, right on down to the color of the mirror caps. The car was delivered in a timely fashion, and I COULD MONITOR MY CAR BEING BUILT in England every step of the way.

To point 4, color is important- many studies have been done showing how different colors affect overall safety (function of visibility), as well as the number of speeding tix one is likely to get (identical speeds, different colors-we all know red is the worst), not to mention the frequency of washing a black/white car versus other colors that hide the dirt better. If I'm spending over 21k on something, I'd like to be able to choose the color, at the very least.

To point 5, yes you can wait out your six months, hope that a car with your preferences for color and options arrives, and then watch it depreciate two months later when the 05's come out in August.

I contacted over 20 dealers in the Northeast and told them I was ready to buy and I knew exactly what I wanted. They said they had a waiting list a mile long and good luck. My own dealer's allocation is two cars this month and one in January.

Nice job with market research, Toyota!! Please note that I have said nothing negative about the car itself-I'd love to have gotten mine by now.
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When I bought my Dodge truck, I ordered eveything I wanted... accessories, packages, colors, etc. A few days later I received a VIN. Three months later the dealer called and told me the vehicle was at the dealer.

Sounds like Toyota screwed up the Prius delivery system on the '04 program. Sometimes the Japanese desire to micro-manage everything has backfired on them.

The whole system they've built (tell me what you want and I'll get it) isn't in place with the Prius.
TMS easily underestimated the demand for the new Prius - maybe because initial sales of the original Prius were less than stellar. All of the extra marketing and winning "Car of the year" has done a phenomenal job in making the new Prius desirable. Import numbers will start increasing by Feb. I'm told.

Best strategy is to check with all of the Toyota dealers in your area - find the shortest waiting list or someone who actually has one on the lot. A dealer near me (Fred Haas Toyota Country) had one on the lot last week.

Also, you can't blame Toyota for their car manufacturing model because this is how they keep costs down unlike Porsche where you CAN order and have your car completely customized for an outrageous price :x
Fair comparison? Porsche/Toyota?

I respectfully disagree with Joel's Porsche analogy. We're talking apples and oranges- there's quite a difference between putting option package 6 or 7, depending on customer's preference, versus walnut vs. cherry trim on the dash in a car that has a lot of individual work done on it as it's being built. I'm sure the Porsche dealer does a better job informing his/her customers of how the build/ordering process works, too.
Evan et al, Well especially Evan, There have been recent posts that told us of dealerships that would put you at the back of the list if they offer you a Prius and you refuse it. If you pref/order a green #9 and they offer a black #6, it seems a bit unfair to put you to the back of the list. How are they harmed? Why is this arm twisting needed? They could sell the car in a day or two by cycling on down the list or just offering it to the general public.

That would be a good reason to boycot a dealership after confirming with top management that it was in fact policy and not a comment from a sales slug who was too lazy to make a few phone calls and tried to throw his weight around.

Insurance statistics have clearly defined car color as a risk factor. It does matter, perhaps not to you, but it is a real factor and not so small as to be meaningless. We don't like our options narrowed by reality so we tend to ignore this sort of thing. How many doctors smoke?

As to the red ticket magnet. This is not an urban myth either. Some folks argue that the personality type attracted to red are the ones who would get more tickets no matter what color of car they drove. It doesn't matter. Since there is a real corelation of red cars and wilder driving including speeding there is an expectation on the part of law enforcement types that red cars are driven by unsafe drivers who often speed. The ticketing becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. Red cars will be given more scrutiny and less benefit of the doubt due to this predjudice. If you don't want to be thought a duck, don't waddle and quack. It isn't fair and I wish it weren't so but the effect does exist. Sometimes I wish gravity were different but it doesn't help.

I live in a rural area, fairly remote (not the middle of nowhere but you can see it from here) and dirt or gravel roads are common. I'm building a new house 1/4 mile off the paved highway with an 800ft gravel drive from the graveled section line. The look of a car with some dust or mud (frequent condition) is at least as important as how it looks all clean and polished (less frequent condition.)

Non-hybrid cars that run the engine all the time are easier to heat in the winter than cool in the summer so black can be a dangerous choice in some regions. I'm not sure just where the chips will fall with a Prius in black as regards cooling although I know it would not look good with red mud or much dust.

Given the REAL WORLD impact of color on ease of maintaining a minimally accceptable appearance, driving safety, and unwanted/unwarranted attention (from the police) I think color is NOT just a whim to be considered quite so lightly as some suggest. So, there can be more to color preference than coordinating with your eyes or tie collection.

I think a Prius wold look real good in a bright sunflower yellow (hi-vis too).

I think a prius would look even better in my garage!

:D Pat :D
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