Letter to dealers also reveals more Mustang production details

Some 2015 Ford F-150 buyers will have to wait until next year

Letter to dealers also reveals more Mustang production details

The first pre-production prototypes of the new F-150 are scheduled to roll off the line about Oct. 22.
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DETROIT -- Some retail and all fleet customers who order their 2015 F-150s early won’t see their trucks until February.

A letter to Ford dealers -- dated Aug. 20 and signed by distribution planning manager Kevin Giacomini and allocation and commodity manager John Bradley -- leaked on the Internet today details when some F-150s will arrive.

Ford’s 3,000 U.S. dealers will still get some stock by the end of the year, but customers who order a specific truck with unique trim and colors will have to wait until February to take delivery. That’s also when fleet order will start to arrive, Ford confirmed.

“We understand the desire to get the customer units as quickly as possible, but do not want to compromise our commitment to quality for the sake of a few additional weeks of delivery,” the letter says.

Ford’s Dearborn truck plant in Michigan is shutting down Aug. 25 for the extended changeover to the redesigned 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150. The first pre-production prototypes are scheduled to roll off the line about Oct. 22. Industry analysts have said the changeover from steel to aluminum on such a high-volume vehicle is an unprecedented undertaking.

Ford, in a statement today, said: “Customers are excited for the all-new F-150, which they will be able to buy and drive off dealer lots late this year. Those customers ordering specific configurations may not receive their truck until early 2015.”

Mustang details 

The letter also gave new details about the timing of the redesigned 2015 Mustang: “The new Mustang is in production. We expect retail order scheduling of the coupe to begin in late September with dealer arrivals in November.”

Mitchell Dale, owner of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas, said the truck delivery times announced in the letter “are probably later than some people are thinking,” but “it doesn’t mean anything’s been slipped back any” in terms of timing.

“What this is telling us is manage the retail order expectations,” he says. “Some dealers will receive some stock orders before they receive retail orders.

“There are three order pipes: a stock order, a retail order with customer’s name on it and a fleet order. They’re talking about orders that have Priority Code 1, which is retail order.”

Dale, who sold about 1,100 F-150s in 2014, says he already anticipated an extended changeover by ordering enough 2014 F-150s through late February or early March. Ford is staggering the launch of the new pickup, which is made in two plants: Dearborn and Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City plant will keep producing 2014 trucks until the Dearborn plant production comes online before shutting down early next year.

Troubled launches 

Ford has been stung by launches gone awry in the last couple of years.

The 2013 Lincoln MKZ arrived in dealerships nearly three months late after a series of quality glitches held up vehicles at the factory in Hermosillo, Mexico. Ford had to ship many MKZs by rail to Flat Rock, Mich., for repairs and quality inspections. Lincoln advertised the vehicle on the 2013 Super Bowl telecast, well before most dealers had any cars in stock.

Customers who had placed retail orders for the new car were upset when dealers could not tell them when they might receive their cars.

The letter, which explained Ford’s latest launch procedures, said, “Current practice is to not schedule retail orders until the early production units have passed a number of post-production quality checks. Once ‘OK to Ship’ has been received, we begin to schedule retail orders within allocation.”

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.


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