The Ford F-150 Lightning order bank opened January 5, officially putting the first all-electric pickup truck from Ford Motor Co. into production. There are supposedly more than 160,000 reservations, and just last week Ford announced it would double the production capability to meet that demand. And when we priced one there was quite a bit of sticker shock.
But, Ford now has a messy situation on its hands with some dealers marking up prices on the F-150 Lightning and essentially blackmailing reservation holders to pay $5,000 to convert their order.
On the enthusiast forum f150gen14.com, a member shared a bulletin Ford sent to dealerships imploring them not ask for additional deposits or extra payments. In the bulletin, which has now been removed from the forum per Ford’s request, Ford said: “It has come to our attention that a limited number of dealerships are interacting with customers in a manner that is negatively impacting customers satisfaction and damaging the Ford Motor Company brand.”
The bulletin further stated that asking for additional payments or deposits from customers was “perceived as threatening customers by withholding their opportunity to convert reservations to orders.”
TheDrive.com covered the bulletin in full before it was removed from the F150gen14.com forum.
This is not the first time that Ford has encountered outrageous dealer markups in recent memory. During the bumpy launch of the highly anticipated Ford Bronco, dealers were busted on social media marking up Broncos. As these instances were reported on Twitter and Facebook to various powers that be at Ford including CEO Jim Farley, it created a maelstrom of bad PR for both Ford and the dealers.
So, now it seems like Ford is preemptively trying to avoid this same situation again with the Lightning.
In the F150gen14 forum, there was a report of a dealer who was allocated 20 Lightnings and then essentially said they would go to only those willing to fork up an additional $5,000 for the rights to them. This essentially would have netted that less-than-scrupulous dealer $100,000.
Such practices are exactly what Ford is trying to avoid with the Lightning and all future product launches. So the memo to the dealers made sense. But just why did Ford want that letter removed from the forum? It would seem that it was advocating for the customer.
Any time you have a “hot” vehicle, there will be high demand. With high demand comes the opportunity to flip the sale for a profit. Once again, those who bought Ford Broncos were able to resell them for a nice profit. Ford seems to be annoyed with this concept too and want to avoid this for the Lightning.
The other aspect of the now removed bulletin shed some light on that, and might be why Ford wanted the document removed.
A “No-Sale provision” was on the bulletin and this was aimed at customers. It basically asks those who purchase the Lightning to sign the No Sale provision, ensuring that the truck won’t be sold for one year. This practice has been done before, specifically for the Ford GT, which is a limited run super car from Ford.
It is curious why Ford is worried about that and seems unusual for Ford to make such a request of Lightning reservation holders.
Ford is wise to try to put greedy dealers in their place and ensure that it doesn’t run into the same pitfall that happened with the Bronco. Truth be told, Ford hasn’t recovered from some of the ugly PR related to the iconic Bronco. The zest for the Lightning is high, and that has capital for Ford and the dealers.
But don’t exploit that at the expense of the customer.
What do you think about dealer markups? What have you seen out there? Leave us your comments below.