Is the F-150 in Trouble? Ford Slashing Available Configurations
Ford is refreshing the F-150 for the 2024 model year. But while the pickup truck’s getting new lights and rims, it’s losing many configurations. Ford has long been a leader in offering enough factory options to configure its F-150s and Super Duty trucks for any possible use. So is “America’s favorite truck” slipping? Or is Ford just learning from startups such as Tesla?
The F-150 to reduce orderable combinations
The President of Ford’s internal combustion division said, “In the coming months, we’re going to reduce the orderable combinations on the F-150 by a magnitude that we’ve never seen before.”
One of the keys to the truck’s past success has been that fleet truck buyers can order a barebones F-150 work truck for under $40k, or you can load it up with six figures of luxury options. And this strategy seems to be working: Ford sold over 600,000 F-150s last year. So why would the automaker be reducing its pickup truck offerings?
Ford’s CEO called the company’s internal combustion lineup “too complex,” according to Ford Authority. He says reducing options will lead to “best in class” quality.
Galhotra explained how: “Less complexity means fewer parts. From one model year to another, we’re talking about 2,400 parts out of the F-150. That means many fewer parts to engineer, test and manage quality on.”
Is Ford’s simplified F-150 part of a larger trend?
The automotive industry is looking to the fresh startups that are quickly eclipsing the Detroit Three in valuation. One interesting thing about Tesla is the limited number of configurations it offers.
Take, for example, the Model S. You can order one of two trims: regular or tri-motor (the Model S Plaid). Then you can pick one of five exterior colors. The car has three possible interiors, though your trim level will dictate your interior trim and other features. Want upgrades? You can choose one rim upgrade, a steering yoke, the enhanced autopilot, or the camera array required for self-driving software (which is still in development). That’s it.
Compare that to the F-150’s eight trims, dozens of feature packages, and hundreds of individual features. Automotive News reported that–until recently–there were 10 million different ways to build an F-150.
Is the very limited number of Tesla Model S features hurting sales? Heck no. In fact, Tesla has barely even done a generational redesign, and it still has a line of eager customers circling the proverbial block.
Ford ran an F-150 simplification trial
During the chip shortage and other global supply chain issues, automakers struggled to keep up with demand. F-150 sales dipped for the first time in years. As a result, Ford and other automakers had to make tough choices.
Many companies began using their limited supply of microchips for larger or luxury vehicles to improve their bottom line. They also upgraded these vehicles with top-trim features. They found that with inventory limited, customers bought whatever dealerships had in stock.
When Ford first launched its electric F-150 Lightning, it took a page out of Tesla’s book. Every F-150 Lightning was a SuperCrew cab with a short bed and AWD. You could choose a regular or long-range battery pack. Despite this, Ford received 200,000 reservations almost immediately.
Starting with the 2023 model year, Ford began experimenting with dropping some unpopular configurations. For example, the Super Duty King Rang and Platinum no longer come in 2WD. So Ford’s promise to cut more configurations for 2024 is not unprecedented. We’ll just have to wait and see what the automaker deletes next.
Next, find out how Ford is still refusing to give us a faster horse or learn more about the 2024 F-50 configuration changes in the video below: