Some years ago, Ford made a big to-do about its plans to reduce the number of orderable configurations across its entire portfolio of light passenger vehicles. Each vehicle offering multiple trim levels, numerous colors, and myriad different packages and a la carte options makes ordering up the exact perfect car more possible, but all that freedom of choice also creates a lot of headaches during manufacture.
Now, Ford has another plan in much the same vane that could make it harder to find the configuration you want in-stock at your local dealer: “inventory reframing”. CarsDirect reports that starting in late January or early February, Ford will begin limiting the number of stock order configurations for its wholesale allocations, reducing them by an average of 70 to 80 percent.
In other words, fewer vehicle configurations will be made available for dealers’ lot inventories, all but forcing customers with particular tastes to place an order with Ford. Nine model lines are affected: Bronco Sport, Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, F-150, F-250, Mustang, and Ranger. Note that the full-fat body-on-frame Ford Bronco is not on the list, possibly because Ford has made a particular effort to offer an expansive range of options and beaucoup customizability on that model line.
A Targeted Approach
Mind you, Ford isn’t just reducing the number of order configurations willy-nilly. What configurations are available to a given dealer will depend on what region they reside in, and the automaker will use a combination of regional sales data and dealer input to offer only the best- and quickest-selling configurations in each region. In other words, you can probably say goodbye to ever finding another stick-shift Mustang or loaded-up F-150 on the lot ever again. Ford says this will result in “faster days to turn” with “reduced aged inventory” and “lower floorplan expense” for dealers. Forecasting and managing inventory ought to become easier as well, the automaker says.
But there’s another side to this maneuver. With inventory shortages affecting the entire auto industry, not just the Blue Oval, it makes sense for Ford to focus what capacity it can sustain on only the hottest-selling configurations. It also makes sense to try and corral buyers, wherever possible, into ordering from the factory in the hopes that it’ll give enough time for the semiconductor shortage to die down and demand to slow a bit.