Scoping out local dealerships for a suitable ride has been a part of the car buying process in the U.S. for decades. Specifically ordering a vehicle tailored to one’s liking hasn’t been wide-spread here since the 1970s, though it seems that the pandemic and its lasting effects may have a hand in changing that. According to a report from Car and Driver, Ford Motor Company is considering changing up the dealership system for vehicles like the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E and 2022 Ford Maverick by implementing new build-to-order practices.
The news came by way of Ford CEO Jim Farley, who spoke about the matter during a Q2 earnings call with reporters earlier this week. Farley noted that the buying public’s opinion on the car dealer process changed during the pandemic. People have quickly become accustomed to the idea of buying a car online, and are less concerned with former rituals like test drives and haggling.
Furthermore, the global semiconductor shortage’s impact on dealer supply has created a wave of disgruntled customers. Farley believes these pressures could be alleviated by working more closely with buyers in a build-to-order system, while ultimately boosting Ford’s bottom line.
“We are really committed to going to an order-based system and keeping inventories at 50 to 60 days’ supply,” Farley said.
Ford Incentives May Go Away
The executive would later note Ford is wasting money on incentive programs designed to move aging products off dealer lots. These sort of programs have long been great for buyers looking for a deal, but it seems they are on Farley’s chopping block.
“I know we are wasting money on incentives,” Farley was quoted as saying by Reuters. “I don’t know where.”
The Blue Oval already has some architecture in place to compensate for such a massive shift in their system. Ford Express Buy was introduced earlier this year, and currently serves as an online-only buying experience for customers. Currently only the Mustang Mach-E SUV is available for purchase this way, but Ford has already confirmed the program will expand to other recent products in the future.
The 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup is one such vehicle, and one that will see instant ramifications from this build-to-order practice. According to Granger Ford on the Maverick Truck Club forum, Ford will not stock Maverick hybrids at dealerships. Instead, customers who want the smaller powertrain will have to order the vehicle directly from the automaker themselves. Buyers shouldn’t expect to see that celebrated sub-$20,000 Maverick at their local lot after all.
This announcement from Farley is a major shakeup for the American automotive industry. That is particularly true for the dealer network, who are about to undergo an interesting experiment in the name of cutting costs. Just another turn of events that can be associated with the unending impact of the pandemic, I suppose.