Ford Might Be Shipping Incomplete F-150s to Dealers

It seems the Ford F-150 is suffering from success. America’s most popular pickup truck is being hit by supply chains, like many other models. This includes Ford’s own Bronco SUV, and a plethora of others. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. Fortunately, Ford has come up with a clever solution. The brand is considering shipping incomplete F-150s to dealers.

Chip shortages are to blame for incomplete Ford F-150s

Ford's F-150 truck parked in the dirt at sunset
The 2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

The semiconductor shortage has hit Ford hard. Really hard. Earlier in the year, the brand was forced to suspend production of models like the Bronco. Now, the brand has been hit even harder. According to CEO Jim Farley, a grand total of nine of the brand’s suppliers used the same chip manufacturer. Then, yet another disaster struck. There was a fire in this singular chip manufacturer’s cleanroom. Frankly, the fire couldn’t have been in a worse place.

Ford F-150 production is done on an assembly line. In semiconductor manufacturing, that’s handled in a cleanroom. And that is exactly where the fire occurred. As of now, the one place where chips can be assembled is literally in flames. Talk about bad luck. Thankfully, Ford found a temporary supplier that would ship some chips, but not nearly all of the semiconductors that the brand so desperately needs.

There really isn’t an end in sight

A row of Ford F-150 trucks sit on a dealership lot
F-150s on the dealership lot | Joe Raedle via Getty Images

So this horrible set of circumstances is what led the Blue Oval to their current consideration: Whether or not to ship out incomplete Ford F-150 trucks. The brand is able to ship out what is effectively a 99% complete product. Purportedly, the missing semiconductors are relatively easy to install. That means that dealers can just throw in those semiconductors when they do finally show up. Then, the dealers can simply toss a “For Sale” sign in the window and call it a day.

However, there are some slight catches. As ever, things aren’t as simple as they seem. Dealership techs would need training, and as dealerships are independent from the Blue Oval, the brand will train and reimburse dealers for the labor. Additionally, there’s the act of dealers actually agreeing to this. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine they don’t. When Ford hurts, the dealers hurt too, and the supply chain issues mean everyone is hurting right now.

Time heals all (supply chain shortages)

The folding gear selector in the new F-150
The 2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

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It’s an interesting proposition. The dealers get inventory sooner, and Ford gets to free up valuable production space. Of course, dealers don’t want to pay for trucks they can’t sell, so this one could be a tough sell for Ford. Fortunately, time heals all, including supply shortages. Though it may not be for some time, balance will eventually return to the automotive ecosystem, and with it a steady supply of complete, sellable vehicles for dealers. For now, the Blue Oval is in a stalemate with dealers, at the very least until more semiconductors arrive.