After several problems plagued the launch of the 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, Ford CEO Jim Farley pledged to improve new vehicle quality and reduce warranty costs moving forward, as well as ensure smooth new vehicle launches.
Despite this, the automaker has been forced to delay the launch of the 2021 Ford Bronco and most recently issued a stop-ship on the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Regardless, the automaker insists that it is pleased with its recent launches and new vehicle quality.
“Because we did online reservations, and we took them very early in the process, our ability to really forecast a delivery date wasn’t very precise,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s vice president of product development and purchasing, told Automotive News.
“We’ve had to go back to those customers to adjust the timing based on how things are going,” Thai-Tang added. “Overall we’ve been very happy with the launches so far. If you think about this last year, we had three big launches, and we hit all of those launch dates and ramp volume curves pretty much to plan after we adjusted for the COVID shutdown.”
Additionally, Thai-Tang noted that the thousands of 2021 Ford F-150 models spotted sitting around Detroit and Kansas City in recent weeks are not related to the vehicle’s launch but are a normal part of the automaker’s build-and-hold process.
Thai-Tang blamed the Mach-E delay on a supplier issue, similar to the one facing the Ford Bronco, which was caused by problems from Webasto, which supplies roofs for the SUV. “In both cases, they’re complex issues with tools that were installed with overseas support,” he said. “It was complicated by COVID absenteeism, but we’re on the right path.”
Ultimately, Thai-Tang noted that the initial quality of the 2021 F-150 and Mach-E seems promising, based on early metrics. “We have connected-vehicle data now, so we’re able to see in real-time some of the initial-quality results,” he said. “So far the run rate at zero months in service, we’re seeing about 45 percent lower quality claims this year than the same period last year. It’s another proof point the process is working.”
Thai-Tang also said that Ford will continue offering online ordering for vehicles moving forward, and noted that it has not seen a considerable drop in reservations following the Bronco and Mach-E delays. “That’s becoming the norm,” Thai-Tang said. “You can order something on Amazon, and they’ll tell you exactly where it is. I think that’s something the customers are going to expect with their interactions with automotive OEMs as well.”
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