Ford Broncos piling up again in a Michigan holding lot

·3 min read



Bronco fever hasn't abated; buyers are still clamoring for the world's most recent hardcore off-roader. We'd normally consider this a good problem for Ford to have, but these aren't normal times and the Bronco isn't a normal vehicle. Two years of industry disruptions have dropped continuous bombs on delivery times, on top of Bronco-specific ailments like the defective tops that led to huge backups last summer — and all this for a rig that some buyers first signed up to buy in 2020. Automotive News reports that the chip shortage is biting especially hard into Bronco deliveries at the moment, with trucks stacking up in a lot outside the Michigan Assembly Plant that online watchers dubbed "Dirt Mountain," the coming of a snowy Michigan winter changing the name to "Ice Mountain."

Both Ford Motor Company and Ford dealers admit this is about the lack of chips. The automaker's dealer council head believes the current process is the most efficient, with Ford continuing Bronco production and waiting on chips before delivery. Ford isn't the only automaker doing this so-called "build-shy strategy," and we saw the same thing a year ago when pickups were in the spotlight, F-150s hoarded in parking lots across the country while Ford waited for those infernal shards of silicon. Buyers seem to appreciate the difficulties of keeping product flowing in the current climate. What they haven't appreciated is Ford's lack of communication during the process. Ford CEO Jim Farley told Bloomberg last week in relation to another issue, "All we can do at this point is scale as fast as we can and break the constraints and communicate to (buyers) what’s realistic." This isn't what's happening, supposedly. One Bronco buyer who spoke to AN said, "I do think they could be communicating better," another said he hadn't got "any transparency on Ford's end," a third described Ford's forthrightness as "nonexistent."

That other issue, the one covered by Bloomberg, is Ford allocations. The allocation formula is exacerbating the anger some Bronco reservation holders already feel about the lack of communication. Dealers and reservation holders thought Bronco orders would be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. Instead, Ford decided 50% of production would be for reservation holders, 25% would factor in dealer location, the final 25% would consider a dealer's historic sales figures. That weighted half the formula in favor of dealers in large markets. Then Ford changed the calculus to factor in Bronco Sport sales as well. Then Ford lowered the threshold for the percentage of Broncos a dealer needed provide to reservation holders out of the allocation, the result being that "four out of 10 new Broncos can go to a walk-in customer or the highest bidder." Some shoppers who reserved Broncos in 2020 still don't have their trucks, yet they're reading stories about people who ordered Broncos recently getting their trucks delivered, or people buying Broncos off the dealer lot. As an aside to all of this, when buyers turn cynical about Ford going after dealers for markups on the battery-electric F-150 Lightning, this is partly why.

In an e-mailed statement to AutoNews, Ford said a "few thousand" trucks have been held back, and "our teams have been working on how to maximize production, with a continued commitment to building every high-demand vehicle for our customers with the quality they expect. Our goal is to have all updated in the next 90 days, pending chip availability."

As for the trucks waiting on Ice Mountain, their buyers likely feel the same as the buyer who told AN, "I'm of the mindset that if my vehicle is going to get trashed by the elements, I'd like to be the one doing it."

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