DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has come a long way from "You can have any color as long as it's black."
The 2009 Ford F-150 pickup can be ordered in nearly 10 million combinations of trim series, colors, engines, body styles and options. It seems a staggering number — but it represents substantial progress.
The 2008 F-150 could be ordered in billions of combinations. That's not a typo: Billions.
With the input of dealers, Ford said it reduced the ordering complexity of the 2009 F-150 by more than 90 percent. Company executives declined to disclose exact numbers, but it approaches an estimated 99 percent reduction in possible combinations.
The F-150 is part of a bigger effort to reduce complexity at Ford Motor Co. The automaker says it is slashing the number of build combinations by 90 percent across the 2009 Ford-brand lineup.
Pickup buyers want lots of variations. But with sales of about 400,000 F-150s annually, Ford determined it could meet those demands and still dramatically slash possible combinations.
"If you could build thousands times more than what you're selling, you were building custom units each time they went down the line," said Mike Crowley, Ford truck and SUV group marketing manager.
So Ford marshaled a dealer task force to help and went to work. The improvement was made by standardizing equipment, creating new packages of popular equipment and eliminating unpopular items, Crowley said.