The Ford F-Series fell from the top of the sales charts in the second quarter of 2021 for the first time in years.
The full-size truck line was outsold by both Ram and Chevrolet to finish in third place.
The F-Series has ended the last 39 years as the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. The last time the F-Series suffered such a blow was when the confluence of a poor economy and high gas prices saw several car models outperform it May 2008.
The ongoing semiconductor shortage was largely to blame. Production of all F-Series models dropped from a monthly high for the year so far of 94,305 in March to 45,008 in June as inventories dwindled from 123,000 to 67,400. Sales through the first half of the year have declined 1.5%.
"When the semiconductor shortage hit the F-Series, all of the red flags went up," AutoForecast Solutions Vice President Sam Fiorani told FOX Business." Things like this haven’t happened to the F-Series very often in the last forty-plus years of its sales dominance. Continued troubles with the supply chain and Ford will see a dramatic hit to its bottom line."
Ford has been building some trucks without all of the required chips and holding them for delivery until the parts become available. The Detroit Free Press reported that a new supply of semiconductors coming in now will help get thousands of those trucks to dealers.
"We're working to get chips into F-Series pickups and get them out to dealers. That's our first priority," Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst, told The Detroit Free Press. "We'll see our inventories improve. It'll take time but stock will gradually start to improve the second half of the year."
General Motors has taken a different approach to the shortage by removing two fuel-saving systems from certain pickups and SUVs for the rest of the 2021 model year to conserve chips. It also made drastic reductions to car and small SUV output that led to it being outperformed across its brands by Toyota for the quarter.
"GM has a cushion where they can cut low profit products such as the Chevrolet Malibu, but Ford spent the last few years shifting away from sedans toward the higher-profit trucks and crossovers and doesn’t have the low-hanging fruit to pare off in favor of the core profit center that is the F-Series," Fiorani said.
Ford also offers a wider array of powertrains than GM, including a tech-intensive F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, and also offers a built-in generator feature on some trucks.
Overall Ford deliveries were down 26.9% in June compared to the same month last year and stocks of all of its key models are at historic lows, including the Escape and Explorer, but relief may still be several weeks away.
Ford has announced cutbacks at eight facilities throughout July and August, including production suspensions and shift reductions at the F-Series factories along with a four-week idling of the Chicago Assembly Plant that manufactures the consumer and police versions of the Explorer as well as the Lincoln Aviator.
Approximately 6,000 workers will be affected by the Chicago shutdown, according to Fox 32, but will continue to receive 75% to 80% pay plus unemployment benefits.