The headlines read “Coming this fall! The all-new Ford Maverick, starts under $20,000 and gets 40 mpg”. The problem is, that truck isn’t getting built.
Ford has built big hype on their new compact truck that comes standard as a hybrid and opens a new area of the market – a big one. In June, reservations opened for the 2022 Ford Maverick and since over 100,000 people have signed up to be the first to order one.
As tens of thousands of those reservations have converted to hard orders, buyers have been waiting for their confirmation for a build date which Ford has said will be this fall. In July a trickle of builds began to get scheduled and continued slowly into August and then into September. But by Labor day a clear pattern had formed, 2.0-liter EcoBoost trucks were getting scheduled for build dates, hybrids by-in-large are not.
For the past few weeks thousands of hybrid customers who have placed their orders up to three months ago have been watching with growing concern and anger as Maverick EcoBoost orders placed as little as two weeks ago have been getting scheduled but theirs have not. Ford has been silent, dealerships mostly clueless as to why.
This week the news got even more grim when a Ford bulletin went out to dealerships nationwide on Tuesday stating, “Until further notice hybrid orders will not be selected for scheduling”. This means that no more hybrid Mavericks will roll down the assembly line for an indefinite period of time.
We have reached out for Ford over the past week and again this week and have yet to get any answers as to why. The reasons as to what could be the hold up range widely from the obvious – the semiconductor shortage plaguing all car companies and manufacturing. That would be the easy answer.
There could also be supplier issues for certain components of the hybrid system either from an outside company or from Ford’s own manufacturing operations such as the lithium ion battery or hybrid transmission both of which are made by Ford in Michigan plants. There could also be a quality issue that has popped up – we don’t know. To speculate on any one, would be just that – just speculation as Ford isn’t talking.
For now though, let’s take what we do know and do some math. While 100,000 reservations sounds salacious, reservations are not the same thing has hard customer orders. Ford has not disclosed how many orders they have to build, but reporting online from various sources including various Ford Maverick forums, Facebook and Reddit groups and including most recently Tim Bartz, a sales representative at Long MacArthur Ford in Kansas on his weekly live webcast to customers, suggests about 20-30% conversion rate from reservations.
Though anecdotal, that gives us in the neighborhood of 20,000-30,000 Maverick orders out there. If we factor in the widely reported mix of hybrid orders hovering at 60 percent conservatively you have anywhere from 13,000-19,000 hybrid customers waiting for a truck to be built.
This is well beyond what Ford had expected which was the opposite at a mix of 30% hybrid and 70% EcoBoost which is what they planned on for production. This alone could be a lot of the hold up as their machine to build these trucks only planned on enough parts and capacity for a 30% take rate.
Last month however based on this overwhelming wave of hybrid orders, reporting had suggested Ford would be upping the production mix of hybrids to 35% of capacity temporarily until customer hybrid orders were fulfilled. Additionally, dealers would not be able to order hybrids for their own stock until all customer pre-orders are filled – hence the news last month that dealers would not have hybrids on the lots for some time. If you want one you have to order one.
So for those of us who have ordered a hybrid, how many can Ford build and how long will it take? According to Ford, 1,297 Mavericks were produced in August, with a total of 1,663 through September 1st including some built in June and July. Official production kicked off at the Hermosillo, Mexico plant at the beginning of September according to a press release Ford put out in Mexico only last week.
Like all new product launches things do start slow and then ramp up to full speed when things get dialed in. While we don’t know what Ford will produce in September and October, Tim Bartz shared from his meetings with regional Ford wholesale representatives that some 2,700 Mavericks are planned for November production all of which will be only for customer orders and then some 4,900 will be planned for December.
If you fill in a predictive number for September and October production that gets us to around 13,800 for total production by the end of the year. If you consider a 35% mix of hybrid production which we now know may be unlikely due to the reported halt until further notice, that would be a maximum of 4,830 hybrids built in a best case scenario.
Going back to the our potential 13,000-19,000 hybrid order customers waiting for theirs that means that well over half us them will be waiting well into 2022 for their trucks – especially if hybrid production is halted much longer due to some unknown production issues.
This is obviously very disappointing given many people placed their orders on the hype and build up of a $20,000 truck that gets 40 mpg, a truck which will be the last one to arrive on dealership lots – maybe even up to a year after people ordered them.
It has to be said that even in a perfect world new vehicle launches are always a rodeo at the beginning. Today however we have to add in the fact we have a global computer chip shortage that has caused all automakers to be down in production anywhere from 30-60 percent this year and also COVID-19 outbreaks limiting actual factory output and we have a baseline that is harsh.
Ford however has gotten their share of bad headlines for the rocky ups and downs, delays and disappointments that Bronco Sport and Bronco customers who have pre-ordered have been going though, not dissimilar to what Maverick customers are now just starting to experience.
Giving Ford the benefit of the doubt, there are areas of improvement. Aside of getting production issues hammered out Ford could help themselves and their customers with this process by perhaps offering up better communication with customers when things are changing at such a fast pace.