- Ford tells dealers not to mess with reservation holders.
- Ford says it’ll pull allocations of F-150 Lightnings if a dealer is caught misleading customers.
- Automaker also asks customers to sign a no-sale agreement for new Lightnings.
Ford's electrified truck business is booming. Shortly after reservations opened last summer, Ford reported more than 100,000 people had signed up for the hybrid version of the new 2022 Ford Maverick. By the end of the year, Ford had to shut down new orders because production couldn't keep up with demand.
The automaker is seeing similar levels of interest in the upcoming 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, with the entire run of the first model-year Lightnings already spoken for in the reservation process. However, Ford is also aware of the current inventory crunch — which has seen above-MSRP markups become commonplace — and the resulting dissatisfaction from buyers about paying more than expected for vehicles like the Maverick and recently released Bronco. To that end, Ford has issued warnings to dealers who have asked for additional payments from reservation holders, and it's attempting to bar new Lightning buyers from selling their new electric pickup for one year.
On January 7, the Detroit Free Press reported on a memo that Ford sent to its dealer network in an effort to rein in dealers engaging in practices that might cast a negative light on the brand. The memo was posted to f150gen14.com on Jan. 7 but has been deleted at Ford's request. We were able to find the original memo, which was written by Andrew Frick, vice president of sales for the U.S. and Canada. The letter details the problem, as Ford sees it, and what it's planning to do to protect its customers and the automaker's reputation.
The memo starts out by saying, "It has come to our attention that a limited number of dealerships are interacting with customers in a manner that is negatively impacting customer satisfaction and damaging to the Ford Motor Company brand and Dealer Body reputation." The memo then goes on to list a few of the actions specifically, including asking reservation holders to make additional deposits or payments, noting that the actions are "perceived as threatening" to customers. For customers who are on the receiving end of those interactions, this seems like welcome rhetoric coming from the head office.
The automaker is taking these actions seriously too, and the memo reads, "If it is determined that your dealership is engaging in such practices, Ford Motor Company reserves the right to redirect that dealerships [sic] allocation of the F-150 Lightning for the entirety of the 2022 [model year]." Basically, if the dealership is found to be deceiving or misleading potential customers in its advertising or conduct, Ford is prepared to send the Lightnings the dealer would have been allocated to another dealership.
That's not all Ford had to say about the F-150 Lightning sales situation. In addition to discouraging dealers from asking reservation holders for additional payments, the automaker is implementing a no-sale agreement that it wants customers to sign at the time of purchase. The no-sale provision applies for the first year after purchasing a new F-150 Lightning, and in it the purchaser agrees "that it will not sell, offer to sell, or otherwise transfer any ownership interest in the Vehicle prior to the first anniversary of the date hereof." This provision seems crafted to help avoid a situation in which vehicles are purchased and then immediately listed for sale at huge premiums. Anyone who's tried to buy tickets to a popular concert has probably heard this practice called "scalping."
This isn't the first time the automaker has required no-sale agreements. Several years ago the automaker put restrictions on the resale of its Ford GT, carefully selecting the buyers for the supercar, which had a limited production of just several hundred units per year. That no-sale agreement was for two years. Actor John Cena was famously taken to court by Ford after selling his GT before the two-year mark. Cena settled out of court with Ford, and the proceeds were donated to charity.
Ford is taking its reputation seriously, and the automaker doesn't want dealers or buyers to cast a negative light on the impending release of the F-150 Lightning.