Ford Sales Look Grim, but August Showed Signs of Hope

Even if you don’t know the latest details behind the chip shortage, you are likely familiar with how big a problem it’s been for automakers. While most manufacturers have experienced setbacks because of these shortages, Ford sales seemed to have taken a nose-dive this year. More specifically, the F-150 demand continues to be robust, and the blue oval company is struggling to meet it.

Can Ford survive this semiconductor chip supply and demand challenge? More importantly, will you have a more challenging time finding and buying your Ford F-150 for 2022? The sales numbers look grim, but there are some signs of stability for Ford and other automakers. August data showed signs of hope for the brand. 

Blue and chrome Ford logo on a black grille.
Ford logo | Getty Images

Ford struggles to meet F-150 demand this year

The semiconductor chip shortage slammed the auto industry as a whole. Ford tried to accommodate by saving its chip supply for application on its most popular models, including the Ford F-150. But the automaker wasn’t prepared for the surge in demand for the best-selling pickup. Detroit Free Press says 41,000 new orders rolled in for vehicles in August, up from July and nearly four times higher than orders for 2020.

Orders were higher, but sales dipped in August as Ford struggled to deliver the finished products. As a result, the blue oval company saw a 33% drop in sales figures compared to last August. And while Ford tried rushing by sending F-150 pickups directly to buyers instead of retailers, the company still fell behind.

Imagine lots full of preassembled Ford F-150s just waiting for chip installation. As the shortages continued, Ford had no other choice but to halt production of the 2021 F-150. The Kansas City plant shuttered, Oakville assembly in Canada shut down, and shifts were eliminated at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan. 

A spark of good news for Ford’s August numbers

Orders going up and sales going down for August may sound terrible. But there was a spark of good news for Ford’s August numbers. Ford dealership sales numbers increased by 6.5% from July, indicating a potential comeback. Both production and delivery processes also improved, by a whopping 80% in August over July.

The F-Series of pickups grew an overall 11% this August from the previous month’s sales. Even more exciting for the company is the spark of interest generated by the all-electric F-150 Lightning. According to the data, the number of consumers reserving their purchases for these EV pickups passed 130,000.

The chip shortage isn’t entirely in the rearview mirror just yet

When you consider how much money this semiconductor chip shortage has cost automakers, it’s staggering. For example, for every 100,000 F-Series trucks lost, Ford takes a $4.7 billion revenue hit, according to Morningstar’s report in August. 

Ford lost nearly 50% of its intended production in the second quarter alone. Total 2021 revenue loss for the global industry, as Alix Partners reported, may hit $100 billion by the end of this year. Taking financial hits that large, while devastating for automakers, won’t last forever.

NBC reports on some of the latest consumer-facing impacts of the shortage and suggests we’re not out of the woods just yet. Vehicle inventories will continue to be low, despite some indications of stabilization in the chip dilemma. And consumers can expect to keep hearing about these production hiccups as well as supply versus demand challenges well into 2022.

As a car and F-150 buying consumer, you can expect more challenges in the coming model year of availability. But despite all the gloom and doom news surrounding Ford’s ability to rebound, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With the popularity of the F-150 and the new EV variation of the pickup, Ford will likely survive this chip shortage. 

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