Nothing like this has happened before.
Right now, there are thousands of partially built Ford F-150s sitting in massive parking lots around Detroit. Final assembly cannot be completed until one final component is installed, semiconductor chips. Without them, new cars and trucks cannot function properly as crucial systems like navigation and Bluetooth depend on them. Ford has been forced to idle several production plants, including the Mustang assembly line in Flat Rock, Michigan, for various periods of time to help balance out what chip supplies it has left.
With no solution to the crisis on the horizon this year, it's not only automakers who are struggling. Dealerships across the country are expected to shortly begin experiencing a lack of new vehicle inventory with Ford dealers not expecting any major deliveries until at least August.
Automotive News spoke to a few Ford dealers and they're all very concerned. Many predict what little inventory they have left will be gone well before August comes around. "We know for sure there's going to be three months of heartache and hand-wringing," said one dealer executive. "We don't want our people having concerns about where the next meal's coming from."
Ford's vehicle output is expected to be sliced in half this business quarter and this will result in a serious dent to the company's bottom line. A strong first-quarter sales report was definitely great news, but it also means there's now shrinking inventory. Ford is having greater difficulty securing enough chips compared to other automakers following a fire at a Japanese supplier in March. That facility should be back up and running by July but that'll be too late for some dealers.
One temporary solution they're attempting is stocking up on used vehicles, which could partially explain why so many US dealers are heading to Canadian auctions, frustrating their Great White North counterparts. Unfortunately, that still won't be enough and dealer employees whose income is mostly commission-based are rightly concerned. Some dealers have decided to set up funds for employees to borrow from and repay once things get back to normal.
Ford initially had quite a 2021 planned. The Ford Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Mustang Mach-E are all on sale but total output will now suffer. At this point, Ford and its dealers are hoping things return to normal in 2022.