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2021 Ford F-150s have begun shipping again after the chip shortage
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Ford’s Bad Idea: Ship F-150s Without Chips To Dealers Anyway

Ford has come up with a scheme it is mulling over to send "dead" F-150s without microchips to dealers. Once chips are available Ford will send the dealers the appropriate chips. But Dealers can't sell the F-150s until they get them, which could take months.

We keep posting about Ford’s problems over the years when it launches new vehicles. But this idea to “move the metal” is so bad it raises many questions about how Ford approves its new products for production. Due to the microchip shortage, it is looking at shipping completed 2021 F-150 trucks without chips to dealers.

These “dead” Ford trucks won’t be able to be sold until chips arrive-whenever that is

A silver Ford F-150 lightning electric pickup truck
Ford F-150 Lightning | Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Called “dead” vehicles, the idea itself should be dead on arrival. Dealers are clamoring for new Ford trucks to sell. Some say they will run out of all pickups by August. In some ways, this is a good position to be in.

Rather than having to incentivize excess inventory in September for new models, dealers are selling every pickup they can get. But will they take on dead trucks? According to a Lightning Owners forum poster, Ford is negotiating with dealers to ship dead F-150s. 

These would be to all observers, complete, brand-new 2021 F-150 trucks. Dealers would be provided instructions so dealer technicians could install the chips, fire up the truck, and send it off to a happy customer. The problem is they’re getting trucks they can’t sell-so what’s the point?

Why does Ford want to try this chip scheme?

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor in a new shade of Code Orange
2021 Ford F-150 Raptor in Code Orange | Ford

Carbuzz suggests the illogical-seeming reason has more logic than imagined. With so many trucks piling up in and around Detroit Ford is running out of places to put them. So if dealers will take some of them off of their hands they, logistically, get a reprieve. 

Don’t forget, this is affecting more than just F-150s. In fact, it is affecting more companies than just Ford. So finding empty space around clusters of assembly lines, whether Ford’s or not, is becoming a real problem. 

Dealers will be free to sell the dead F-150 trucks, but must make clear who-knows-when the customer will finally receive it? And one other detail that is said to be hanging is that Ford has not determined how much dealers that accept dead products will be compensated for making them run. This all just seems so sketch.

Remedial assembly is starting to become how Ford makes vehicles

2021 Ford F-150s have begun shipping again after the chip shortage
Ford F-150 pickup trucks | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Thousands of 2021 Ford Super Duty Trucks Waiting for Chips Can Be Seen From Space

This isn’t the first time Ford has had to go for remedial assembly. Back in 2019 brand-new explorers were flying out of the Chicago assembly plant needing lots of fixes. So, Ford loaded finished Explorers on carriers and sent them to its Flat Rock facility in Michigan. There, the Explorers were dialed-in and shipped to dealers. 

While this is a different scenario, it amounts to the same thing. That is that Ford has trouble launching new products. In spite of the chip shortage being partially due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. For example, Toyota seems to be having no problem cranking out everything it makes. Why aren’t we seeing shutdowns by them?

The last point is that this just adds another channel for foul-ups. We’re sure that Ford would serialize chips to specific trucks so no mix-ups occur. But mixups will occur. And with trucks possibly sitting for months on end in the summer heat, what’s it doing to their finishes, interiors, and more? We’re sure that the brain trust at Ford can come up with a better idea than this bad one.