Ford Authority

Ford CFO John Lawler Says Current Online Ordering System Too Complex

The semiconductor chip shortage and other supply chain constraints have had a major impact on automotive production for over two years now, and those events figure to have a lasting effect on the way automakers do business moving forward, too. For Ford, that means moving toward more of a build-to-order model with half the inventory previously seen on dealer lots, one that customers are beginning to embrace, though many have expressed frustration recently with the total lack of communication involved with this process. It seems as if Ford CFO John Lawler is aware of this problem, judging by his comments while speaking at the recent Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference.

“Our lineup is very complex. If you look at the number of clicks it takes the consumer to order a vehicle, it’s – to the point where if they’re online, it just becomes frustrating,” Lawler said. “That needs to come down to 5, 7, 10 clicks. That’s it. As you take down that complexity, that goes all the way back up through the system. You have fewer parts, you have less to manufacture, you have less spending, et cetera. So, it’s really going to start with driving that efficiency.”

Ford is in the midst of a major transformation that will see it split into two entities – Ford Blue, which will manage the traditional ICE vehicle side of the automaker’s business, and Model e, which will handle FoMoCo’s EVs. Aside from asking dealers to specialize in one particular area, Ford is also making quality improvements a major focus of this process, too.

CEO Jim Farley wants to move to a 100 percent online sales, zero inventory model for dealers as part of this process, but has received a bit of pushback thus far, though newly-appointed FordDirect CEO Dean Stoneley will be tasked with smoothing out those negotiations. Regardless, John Lawler also recently revealed that dealers who want to sell EVs will need to clear some pretty high hurdles to do so.

We’ll have more on Ford’s shift to a built-to-order model soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Jess

    I ordered an F150 last fall, most complicated process I’ve ever seen! Too many combinations, can’t get this on that model, low/mid/high for each trimline (high XLT gets Lariat headlights, high Lariat gets Platinum headlights – why be so complicated? 501’s had front parking sensors with assist plus, but 502’s didn’t unless you go blue cruise – that problem fixed in 22’s, but not updated on the order guide, etc, etc), some option packages are confusing, not all details listed – need to look at vehicles on the lot to know for sure, but now that’s not so easy. Add to that all the engine and body style combinations, and it’s a astronomical number of combinations. I’m exhausted and I didn’t even go over all the things that had me pulling my hair out – not even gonna start with trailering packages that don’t really say what’s included in each!

  2. GaryB

    in 2021, if you wanted the sasquatch package on the bronco, the build and price would automatically upcharge you for the automatic transmission. Now that its 2022, and they allowed the sasquatch package to be paired with a manual transmission (standard option), the price increase for adding sasquatch the same as adding an automatic & sasquatch. So you are paying extra to get the manual with the package. Without getting an extra automatic transmission. what a rip off. 6.5 months into 2022 and its still like this.

  3. Tim

    I agree. I ordered an 2021 F150 for my brother. I found the site much more complicated than when I ordered my 2021 GMC Sierra AT4. And before anybody chirps, they are both really nice trucks . My brother loves his blue 150 and the interior is nice than the GM.

  4. Deadarmadillo

    The trouble with simplifying the process is that the Bean Counters will put together “packages” that include hgh profit items that no one wants. I’ll stick with some complexity thank you.

  5. John

    One problem I foresee is you don’t know the payload capacity of a pickup truck until it arrives. Each truck is unique depending on how you option it out, which in turn changes the payload capacity number. Ford gives us the MAX payload capacity of a truck, but until you start adding more options, that’s when we’re in the dark. When there was trucks on a dealer lot, you could open the door and look and see first hand, right then and there, what the payload capacity number is. Unless Ford is able to provide EVERY version of an optioned out truck during the online build process, and how the payload capacity number changes, we won’t know what we’re getting until it arrives. And that in turn could make the difference between being able to tow a trailer you own (or plan on owning), or not being able to tow it. And who wants to wait a few weeks for a truck to show up, only to find the payload number won’t work, and you have to reorder a truck and wait a few more weeks. Very frustrating. So I hope there’s some way Ford could have a calculator that helps is determining towing and payload numbers BEFORE ordering a truck. Makes sense, right?

  6. Williard Greg Youger

    I ordered a Maverick in August of 2021. Options were limited so the actual order was not difficult. What I see as a major problem with the order system is communication. I went to my dealer on August 3, 2021. I received a printout from the dealer showing an order date of August 5th. My first communication from Ford was on Sept. 14. showing that my order was confirmed. That’s 40 days from the “order date”. Since then I have only received 3 emails. non of which have provided any useful information about my order.

  7. corrie

    Yes – it was a bit frustrating trying to pick the right combination of options that got most of the things I wanted….but the worst part by far for me has been the TOTAL lack of communication from Ford. I ordered my Transit in November 2021 and apart from a note saying the order was “accepted” a few days later- there has not been a peep from Ford and it is now nearly July. Is it even still in the queue? Or do I need to start looking for something else? This is not at all how I want to purchase any vehicles ever again.

  8. Dave R

    Wow – Thats all I can say – as a recent Ford customer that ordered a truck last August and still waiting – The problem is that Ford corporate expects dealerships to do just a little to earn their money for selling a vehicle. The dealership already gets paid to sell and deliver the vehicle however, after they get the configuration from the website – you go in and basically give them a DL and signature thats it. They do nothing else – maybe ( you hope ) they will contact you when it comes in. My truck is finally shipped. I found out thru Ford Chat. I contacted the dealership 3 times to get the visibility report which all three emails were ignored. I finally called my salesman ( and I use that term loosely ) who did eventually get that for me. Not one call or email after placing my order other than spam emails trying to sell me something else. No notification on anything. The whole dealership model is a joke. Ford Corp has put a lazy greedy middleman in charge of your order and as a consumer – that’s bad.

  9. Michael Slagle

    When will I be able to order a 2023 Ranger from my Michigan dealer??

  10. Roman Brander

    I ordered a truck beginning of February Just received a message it was being built also got copy of the window sticker and it says the truck is $ 3415.00 more than the dealer order how is this possible?

  11. mjrdm

    The “green” politics will result in many “unforeseen” consequences as the “siren” call of CHEAP electricity for cars evaporates under the reality that the national electrical grid is already running at max capacity. Add 100 million cars using “cheap” electricity and rolling brown or black outs will become the new energy crisis and “cheap” will cease to exists with no new “green” alternative available along with a reduced fossil fuel availability. Ford gave us the Edsel and now it is on the path to give us the new electric Edsel.

  12. Greg Rousseau

    I ordered a blacked out f250, you can’t get black seats unless I go up into the higher package which is 4k more. Thats just ridiculous. So I’m getting a totally black outside with light gray interior. So I guess I’ll pay for black seat covers.

    1. Corey

      Good Luck my husband ordered a F250 in December 21… still waiting for a vin to start production.

  13. Walter R

    I used Ford Build to configure my F-150 PowerBoost. I did not find it complex or difficult to navigate. In fact, I appreciated reading the explanation on the options.

    I went to the local Ford dealer and said I wanted to order a truck. The representative called up the order screen and said he go through the options. I said no need, I have a printout from Ford Build. He entered from my printout and the numbers agreed.

    I’ve ordered three of my last trucks like the idea. You get what you want in the vehicle and not what someone thinks you want.

    The big issue with the process is production time. Six to eight months is too long to wait for a vehicle.

  14. George S

    All manufactures purpose is not to sell vehicles, the object is to get all the money out of you per vehicle. Therefore, the option lists are made that way. Want a feature, like adaptive cruise, you’ll need to bump up to a more expensive trim level then pay for that option inside a technology package.

    At one time just about everything was an option, one or two trim levels then options like a rear bumper on PU trucks, heater, side view mirrors, AM radio, etc. are all now standard plus AC, power windows, automatic, power steering, tinted glass, radio with ten speakers and lately LED lights are becoming standard. What’s new that are option, technology packages and with EV coming on line, technology will be standard and the only option will be battery range.

  15. BigPoppy56

    Ford’s configuration and ordering issues are the least of their problems. Build quality, design and fit and finish needs a major overhaul.


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