But Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's vice president of product development and purchasing, told Automotive News that the issues are "very typical" of any new- vehicle launch and might not have been noticed but for the added transparency created by Ford's new online reservation system.
"Because we did online reservations, and we took them very early in the process, our ability to really forecast a delivery date wasn't very precise," he said. "We've had to go back to those customers to adjust the timing based on how things are going. Overall we've been very happy with the launches so far. If you think about this last year, we had three big launches, and we hit all of those launch dates and ramp volume curves pretty much to plan after we adjusted for the COVID shutdown."
Thai-Tang said reports of new F-150 pickups parked around plants in Michigan and Missouri are not related to the launch and are a normal part of Ford's build-and-hold process, and that they do not impact delivery of production vehicles to customers. Early metrics for the F-150 and Mach-E are positive, he said.
"We have connected-vehicle data now, so we're able to see in real time some of the initial-quality results," he said. "So far the run rate at zero months in service, we're seeing about 45 percent lower quality claims this year than the same period last year. It's another proof point the process is working."
The Mach-E delay, Thai-Tang said, stems from an "industrialization issue" with a single supplier he declined to name. It's not unlike the Bronco situation, caused by problems with roof supplier Webasto.
"In both cases, they're complex issues with tools that were installed with overseas support," he said. "It was complicated by COVID absenteeism, but we're on the right path."
Thai-Tang said Ford has seen no noticeable drops in deposits following the delays and that Ford likely will continue the online ordering system for future vehicles because of the greater transparency for customers.
"That's becoming the norm," he said. "You can order something on Amazon, and they'll tell you exactly where it is. I think that's something the customers are going to expect with their interactions with automotive OEMs as well."