The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning – Ford’s first-ever pure-electric full-size pickup truck – is still a couple of months away from customer deliveries. Yet already, US Ford dealers are taking advantage of the rampant demand for the battery-powered pickup and tacking tens of thousands of dollars onto the purchase price wherever they think they can get away with it.
“Price-gouging,” as the practice is known, is nothing new. In fact, it happens a lot. Because automakers by law must sell their products in the United States through a network of third-party dealers, those dealers operate like independent businesses, which means the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price really is little more than a suggestion. And while under “normal” circumstances most dealers sell their vehicles at prices within shouting distance of MSRP in order to stay competitive, whenever demand far outstrips supply, the gloves often come off. That could mean, say, a dealer charging six figures for a Ford Bronco, or a dealer trying to extract nearly $20,000 extra for a Jeep Gladiator.
EV news outlet electrek has been following the Ford F-150 Lightning price-gouging story, finding evidence of dealers charging $10,000 over sticker for the all-new electric F-150, with one going so far as to ask $30,000 over MSRP for the first 25 orders. Rather euphemistically, Koons Ford Fall Church in Virginia has labeled this a “market adjustment.” Cute.
Of course, many Ford dealers are asking for something much closer to MSRP, while some aren’t adjusting the price over sticker at all. But with roughly 200,000 reservations on the books for the Ford F-150 Lightning, the first couple of years will likely be marked by rampant scarcity; Ford only plans to build 15,000 examples of the first electric F-150 in 2022, and another 55,000 the following year. If you’re a hopeful buyer, you might not have too many options to simply pick up and take your reservation elsewhere.
It’s not out of the question that Ford itself might take action against certain Ford dealers for price-gouging with the new Ford F-150 Lightning. Several years ago, Dodge attempted to curtail price-gouging with the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon by prioritizing dealers selling at or below MSRP when allocating cars. Unfortunately, the strategy found limited success, as dealers were quick to identify workarounds like hiring affiliates to sell the right to order a Demon for tens of thousands of dollars on eBay.