Ford Starts Deliveries of 2015 F-150
Vehicles Are Rolling Off Production Lines, Wending Their Way to U.S. Dealers
Dec. 16, 2014 3:21 p.m. ET
Mr. Key, 47, is one of thousands of customers with confirmed orders waiting on their new truck. Ford, which has hailed the new F-150 as among its most important products in history, has been building the pickups near its Dearborn, Mich., headquarters for months and storing them near the factory. It only started delivering the product to buyers in recent days.
As falling gasoline prices boost truck demand, U.S. customers are being forced to wait in line. Mr. Key, a civil engineer, seems content, saying “it is an amazing feat to get all these trucks out all over the country…I have been hungry for any information about how they ship these things out.”
Ford’s use of aluminum has helped improve fuel economy for the F-150, which has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. since 1977. Since its first debut shortly after WWII, the pickup truck has been built largely from steel.
Shipments of a new truck, or any light vehicle, differs from many other product launches—such as smartphones—because of the size of the product and the complexity of the retail network. F-150s are 20 feet long and 6 feet wide, and versions like the King Ranch can weigh 4,300 pounds. Ford has 3,200 U.S. dealers and many have orders stacking up.
‘The first 50 trucks I get will be gone the first day.’
—Terry Miller, general manager of Galpin Motors
At the world’s largest Ford dealer by sales volume, Galpin Motors in North Hills, Calif., there are hundreds F-150s in stock, but it will be weeks before a customer can walk in and buy a 2015 model. Terry Miller, Galpin’s general manager, said: “the first 50 trucks I get will be gone the first day.”
Given the focus on this launch, Ford built up thousands of trucks at its Dearborn truck plant, storing them until the company was absolutely sure quality levels were met. Now, dealerships within 500 miles will get the F-150s by truck, on vehicle haulers that can hold five or six F-150s.
Other F-150s will travel by train to 60 different “rail ramps” around North America, going an average of 1,200 miles by train before a car hauler takes them an average of 150 miles to the final stop. The haulers usually arrive at the dealership with one or two trucks and a mix of other vehicles.