Bronco fever isn’t going away. Buyers are still eager to buy the most extreme off-roader in the world. This would normally be a problem Ford has, but these aren’t normal times. The Bronco isn’t a regular vehicle. Two years of industry disruptions has continued to drop bombs on delivery times. This is on top of Bronco-specific ailments such as the defective tops which led to massive backups last year — all this for a vehicle that some buyers signed up to purchase in 2020. Automotive News reports that the chip shortage has been a major problem for Bronco deliveries, with trucks stacked up outside the Michigan Assembly Plant. This is a place that online observers have dubbed “Dirt Mountain” in anticipation of an icy Michigan winter.
Ford Motor Company and Ford dealers both admit that this is due to a lack of chips. According to the automaker’s dealer council chief, the current process is efficient. Ford continues production of Broncos and waits for chips before delivering. Ford isn’t the only automaker using this “build-shy” strategy. We saw it again last year when pickups were the focus. F-150s were parked in lots all over the country while Ford waited on the infernal shards silicon.
The current environment is difficult for product flow, which buyers seem to be aware of. Ford’s inability to communicate during this process is something they don’t appreciate. Bloomberg reported last week that Jim Farley, Ford’s CEO, stated that “All we can accomplish at this stage is to scale as quickly as possible and break the constraints to communicate to (buyers), what’s achievable.” However, this is not what is actually happening. One Bronco buyer spoke to AN and said that he thought Ford could communicate better. Another said he didn’t get “any transparency from Ford,” while a third said Ford’s honesty was “nonexistent”.
Ford allocations is another issue that Bloomberg covers. This formula only adds to the frustration felt by Bronco reservation holders about lack of communication. Dealers and reservation holders thought Bronco orders would be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. Ford instead decided that 50% would go to reservation holders. 25% would take into account dealer location and 25% would consider historical sales figures. This favored dealers in large markets by weighing half of the formula.
Ford also changed the formula to include Bronco Sport sales. Ford reduced the amount of Broncos that dealers needed to provide to reservation holders from the allocation. The result was that “four of 10 new Broncos” can be given to walk-in customers or the highest bidder. Some Broncos that were reserved in 2020 are still not available to customers. However, they are reading about stories of people ordering Broncos and having their trucks delivered or buying Broncos off the dealer lots. This is partially why buyers become skeptical about Ford chasing dealers to mark up the F-150 Lightning’s battery-electric F-150 Lightning.
Ford sent an email to AutoNews stating that a few thousand trucks were being held back and that “our teams have been working to maximize production. With a continuing commitment to build every vehicle in high demand for our customers with the highest quality, we will continue to deliver what they have come to expect.” We expect all updates to be completed within the next 90-days, subject to chip availability.
The trucks that are waiting at Ice Mountain will likely feel the same way as their buyers. One buyer told AN, “I think if my vehicle gets damaged by the elements, I’d rather be the one doing it.”