Thousands of Super Duty pickups have been sitting at the Kentucky Speedway for months as the carmaker awaits enough microprocessor chips to complete them, then deliver them to waiting dealerships. Customers are ready to take delivery of many as soon as they arrive on the lot. On Thursday, Ford announced they were considering the possibility of shipping incomplete vehicles to dealerships who could install chips when they arrived, putting more inventory in dealers’ lots.
Only dealerships who would like to participate would receive the units with chips missing, and Ford technicians would be trained on how to install the missing parts. If Ford proceeds with this strategy, it could make vehicles more readily available to consumers when the parts show up.
For some dealers, receiving the incomplete units is a welcome idea that helps fill out the gaping holes in their real estate. For others, the concern becomes one of liability – who would be responsible should an installation go wrong or the component fails down the road? A full briefing has yet to be released on the plan.
A spokesperson for Ford simply said, “We are exploring a variety of options to bring new cars to our customers and dealers as soon as possible.”
Benefit to dealers
For those willing to participate, Ford’s idea to deliver incomplete vehicles could have excellent results. Not only will dealers have inventory on hand to demonstrate – albeit with some functionality not working – but it will alleviate future delivery woes. A severe bottleneck is possible for shipping lines across all automakers once microchip supplies are restored and manufacturing facilities are working at full capacity. Completed vehicles could take even longer to arrive.
As well, any Ford stores that participate can expect revenue from installing the chips. It’s likely they would be paid in a similar process to a warranty claim with a labor op assigned to the process. A store that has the capacity to handle the installations could reap the benefits doubly.
Possible liability concerns would need to be quelled for anyone worried about being held responsible for future faults. However, the liability doesn’t seem to deviate from warranty repairs, so it’s a hurdle that’s likely overcome quite easily.
If Ford proceeds with the idea, other carmakers could soon follow. At a time when inventory woes are hitting most carmakers equally, the potential for getting vehicles to market sooner is very likely a tempting proposition for all.
How the chip shortage has affected Ford so far
A total vehicle count for units manufactured and sitting incomplete hasn’t been provided. In April, Ford stated there were 22,000 vehicles built and ready to deliver once microchips arrived. Today, it must be exponentially higher.
Earlier this year, Ford said that the shortage would cut production by 1.1 million vehicles for the year, although it’s unclear if that’s still the pace they’re currently on. At the July 28th call to report second-quarter results, Ford will update their forecast for the second half of the year. Previously, they expected a decrease in operating profits of $2.5 billion, but lower costs and rising prices have likely cut into that figure.
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