Delayed deliveries. Anxious customers. Not exactly the rollout Ford had planned.
It goes without saying the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are vital to the American automaker's bottom line. Both are expected to be smash hits, raking in high profits. Unfortunately, there have been problems, such as recalls. And now, according to The Detroit Free Press, a mysterious new issue is now plaguing the SUVs and causing delays to dealerships.
The report claims Ford is shipping thousands of new Explorer and Aviators by truck from its Chicago factory to its Flat Rock plant near Detroit where workers "desperately attempt to identify and fix a series of complicated problems." Dealers throughout the US confirm they've been notified of delays due to "manufacturing issues." A Ford spokeswoman stated last Friday that the work being done at Flat Rock is not unusual. "Making updates to preproduction models based on all-new platforms as they roll off the assembly line – is standard industry practice."
Some dealerships, however, now have to update anxious customers about this delay, many of whom already placed pre-orders. On the one hand, there will be some justifiable frustration, but dealerships understand Ford is doing the right thing here. "We're happy they're not giving them to us until they can make sure they can get things right," said Jim Seavitt, president and owner of Village Ford in Dearborn. "They're not telling us what they're working on. But not having customers come back into the store to get repairs is very important to us. We want to make sure the quality is right before we get the vehicle."
Plant workers are working around the clock to fix the SUVs. A source told the Freep that the repairs taking place involve the following: Explorer chassis issues, Explorer transmissions that are not going into park or properly sensing the vehicle is in park, Explorer and Aviator air conditioning systems that only blow hot air, and Aviator suspension issues.
Other sources claim more minor quality issues such as missing emblems, trim pieces, and wrong wheels. Flat Rock workers have been given checklists to resolve the problems, but some claim they're concerned about public safety. "This is incredibly serious," said a Ford source working to resolve the issues. "There is no end in sight. Physical changes are being made at FRAP (Flat Rock Assembly Plant) in anticipation of additional parts being required moving forward into winter. Parts are currently being stored in temporary tents behind the plant." Even Ford's performance partner, Roush, has been called in to help with repairs.
It's good that Ford is doing what's necessary to resolve these problems before customers take delivery but still, it's a concerning situation to begin with. Hopefully, things will get worked out soon and both customers and Ford will be satisfied.