Here's what went down.
Ford's electrification strategy has been very successful so far. There's immense interest and popularity for the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning, and a majority of reservations for the new Maverick are for the hybrid variant. And this is only the beginning. The next-generation Explorer and Lincoln Aviator will ride on dedicated EV platforms with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The eventual replacements for the Edge and Nautilus will also adopt full electrification.
Presently, the semiconductor chip shortage remains a crisis and popular money-making vehicles like the F-150 are suffering from production shortages. Dealership supplies are dwindling fast and people are rightly concerned. One possible solution involved shipping unfinished vehicles to dealers so that customers could at least physically see something in person and place a deposit.
They wouldn't be able to drive the vehicle home until the necessary chip(s) are installed, a process that could potentially be completed by dealer technicians. Ford confirmed to CarBuzz not long ago this was one approach being examined but a new report from Automotive News confirms it's not happening. There was a multiday secret meeting recently held in Dallas, Texas between top Ford executives and dealers where the automaker said the retrofit chip plan is currently on hold.
It won't be implemented unless production takes a major hit in the coming months. Dealers had expressed concern about chip installation for a variety of reasons, among them liability. Ford further informed dealers about its future road map.
Part of this includes CEO Jim Farley's desire for an "always-on relationship" with customers in order to guarantee they remain with the Blue Oval for years to come. "They're going about it the right way," said one attendee who requested anonymity. "They're not coming out and being outlandish; they're being smart and calculated."
Ford also assured dealers the traditional business model will remain in place. Dealers from rival brands, like GMC, have expressed concern over this matter, specifically regarding the ordering process for the Hummer EV. Customers are asked to directly order the vehicle on GMC's official website, seemingly bypassing dealers. Ford assured its dealers that although the buying process and overall industry landscape are both rapidly changing, they will still play a vital role - even if it means installing chips at some point.