Ford’s sales success with the Maverick pickup has been undeniable. But if you’re in need of more evidence, the automaker has begun notifying dealerships to stop taking reservations on the base hybrid model because it doesn’t even think it can keep up with the existing backlog.
Both Automotive News and The Wall Street Journal reported on memos issued to dealers on Monday. The manufacturer has since confirmed the decision, saying it planned to reopen the order books on 2023 model year Maverick Hybrids this summer. This is being done to ensure it can produce enough pickups to address the backlog and hopefully convince more prospective buyers to ditch the $19,995 (before taxes, destination fees, or options) base pickup for the non-hybrid version that uses the 2.0-liter EcoBoost and costs a few grand more.
The turbocharged Maverick (250 hp) is noticeably more gutsy under acceleration, opens the door to several desirable options the hybrid (191 hp) is missing, and even doubles its maximum towing capacity to 4,000 pounds with the relevant equipment package. But it’s not quite the bargain the base model is and lacks the genuinely impressive efficiency ratings issued by the EPA. Turbocharged Mavericks are rated at 23 mpg city and 30 mpg on the highway, with all-wheel drive variants losing an additional 1 mile per gallon. Hybrids offer 42 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, making them ideal for drivers with a tight fuel budget.
“We didn’t want to take more orders than we could build,” explained Dean Stoneley, general manager of Ford trucks. “We’re getting customers who would have perhaps bought a used car and are now buying the Maverick because it is so affordable.”
With used vehicle prices exceptionally high right now, dealers have been able to ask more for new vehicles as well. But the Maverick Hybrid represented a relatively good value, especially after domestic automakers culled economy cars a few years ago to maximize profitability. Considering the current state of the economy and the sizable uptick in fuel prices that took place in 2021, one could assume the Ford Maverick is gobbling up sales that would have otherwise gone to the small sedans and hatchbacks that had previously been removed from the North American market.
Ford rolled out the Maverick last year as a more-manageable alternative to the big pickups that now dominate the U.S. market. The truck has drawn many first-time truck buyers who migrated from sedans or small SUVs, dealers said.
Ford in 2018 decided to eliminate from its lineup the cars that had long served as entry points for new car buyers, including the Fiesta and Focus, which were money losers, executives have said.
Ford’s move to ditch entry-level cars frustrated many dealers, who said it left them few options to offer shoppers for less than $30,000.
Other car companies have also followed suit in recent years, jettisoning budget small cars and hatchbacks from their showrooms and adding more higher-priced trucks and SUVs to fatten profit margins.
There are five nameplates in the U.S. today with an average sticker price of $20,000 or less, down from 19 a decade ago, research firm Cox Automotive said.
Chris Lemley, president of Sentry Auto Group, a Boston-area Ford-Lincoln-Mazda dealership, told WSJ that the decision to pause customer orders on a vehicle like the Maverick was unusual. But that it was also “appropriate under the circumstances” to avoid disappointing customers. He also said that the brunt of the pickups were currently trading in the mid-to-high $20,000 range.
“We desperately needed something in that price range,” Lemley concluded.
The good news is that the Maverick situation didn’t come out of the blue. Ford was aware that it was running out of Hybrids in December and would probably need to stop taking reservations on the 2023 model year if it couldn’t get more people to buy the more-expensive EcoBoost. The automaker said it will stop taking new orders on the Hybrid after January 27th to focus on existing bookings. It also hinted that it might attempt to expand capacity, though your author would wager Ford would prefer it if more people just bought the turbocharged version.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
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