The automaker will impose a steep fine and limit future opportunities for dealers caught selling.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is finally in production, but scores of hopeful buyers are in for a long wait. Dealers, who may not have an actual unit to sell for months, will be given demo units for customers to see and drive, but Ford is placing strict limitations on what they can do with the trucks.
A dealer letter recently surfaced on the F-150 Lightning Forum that shows Ford warning against selling the demo trucks, also called mannequins. Any dealer caught selling before a six-month demo period is up will face a $25,000 fine and may lose their mannequin privileges.
As some on the forum point out, it's entirely possible that some dealers take the trucks and run. Judging from the auction and second-hand sale prices we're seeing for the GMC Hummer EV, it wouldn't be surprising to hear of dealers eating the $25,000 fine for the chance to make a six-figure profit on a new F-150 Lightning. Some also noted that their local dealers have already technically sold their incoming demo trucks but won't let them leave the lot until the six-month period has passed.
If the dealer does decide to sell the truck and take the cash, the customer will be paying the price - in more ways than one. Ford says that any mannequin sold before the six-month cutoff won't be eligible for incentives, but to be honest, someone willing to pay two or three times MSRP likely won't care about that.
The F-150 Lightning generated a storm of interest from customers, and Ford sold out of the truck before its official launch late last month. The automaker says it has collected more than 200,000 reservations for the new EV and has doubled its production goals in an effort to keep up. Still, anyone wanting a truck now will have to wait until next year because Ford can't make enough to cover the orders it already has.
For dealers and many customers, F-150 Lightning demos are tantalizing forbidden fruit. There are likely far more people wanting one than were able to get a reservation, so the chances of at least a few impatient buyers stepping up with cash are better than zero. Dealers, struggling with low inventory, could be tempted to turn a quick profit on the truck.
That said, Ford seems interested in doing the right thing for its customers. The automaker acknowledged unfair vehicle markups ahead of the truck's launch and took the unusual step of warning dealers against them. Still, don't be surprised to hear of at least a few breaking the rules.