SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. will boost inventory in the first quarter to better meet demand, and will offer compensation to dealers for the costs of more complex and timely delivery processes on vehicles equipped with Sync and MyFord Touch, the automaker told dealers at its make meeting.
Ford said it will increase first-quarter production by 13 percent to 550,000 vehicles in the United States vs. the year-earlier period.
“We'll be able to get a lot more inventory,” said a dealer exiting the meeting, who asked not to be named.
Ford is running many of its plants on overtime. It will consider adding a third shift at certain U.S. plants, Ford executives said after the meeting. The increase is due to projections that total U.S. light-vehicle sales could be 13 to 13.5 million units this year.
Ford also said it will supplement dealers' delivery costs to teach consumers about Sync and MyFord Touch. Sync lets a driver align a Bluetooth phone to the vehicle and use voice commands for phone calls and infotainment.
MyFord Touch is Ford's voice-activated and touchscreen technology that controls climate, entertainment, phone and navigation.
Effective immediately, Ford will pay $50 to offset dealers' costs to deliver a vehicle with Sync and $75 to deliver a vehicle with Sync and MyFord Touch in it.
Dealers had complained that delivery times could take as long as two hours, costing them possible profits because their sales people are tied up making deliveries when they could be making other sales.
Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, says dealers will get more details about the program later this week.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately described the sales projections for 2011. They are for total light-vehicle sales.