The one-two punch of the pandemic and an unprecedented chip shortage have created a terrible car market right now. Unlike before, where you could walk onto a lot at any time and find over 100 cars with three other back lots with hundreds more cars, inventory is tight and dealers are greedy. The pandemic forced an industry to adapt quickly to customers wary of visiting a showroom with a potentially deadly virus going around. Ford is trying to read the room and as Car and Driver noted, wants more buyers to custom order their vehicles rather than choose from dealer stock.
The move comes amid long wait times and delays for buyers and their vehicles. Speaking on a conference call last week, CEO Jim Farley noted that he wants to keep dealer inventory low while simultaneously moving to an order based system:
“We are really committed to going to an order-based system and keeping inventories at 50 to 60 days’ supply.”
Speaking to Reuters Farley also admitted that building too many cars hurts them. Throwing cash on the hood, aka incentives, to move vehicles that have been sitting has always been a win for customers. But it hurts the company’s bottom line with Farley saying “I know we are wasting money on incentives. I don’t know where.”
Ford has started to move toward that car buying future, introducing services like Ford Express Buy. But dealers have the option to participate in it. See the problem? Ford wants to move in the right direction, but dealers have the option to participate. And, right now, the service is available at select dealers and only on the Mach-E.
Still, the company says the service, where you can build and price the vehicle, get an approval from Ford Credit, and have the vehicle delivered to your house, will expand to other models soon.
This does seem to be the next wave for car buying and selling. Cavana and CarMax are 2 recent examples of how popular this service can be. Have some local places for folks to test drive the vehicles they might be interested, fill out a build sheet if the lot doesn’t have exactly what they want- and if they’re willing to wait. I suppose if you’re shopping a little early before your lease runs out and the build will hit just as your lease is up it would work out.
If this does take off, I’d like to see an ala cart build sheet where I can select individual options that I want. The car makers could still use parts like normal, but tuck wires out of the way that won’t be used.