Orders may be exceeding expectations but Ford is taking too long to deliver the new Mustang Mach-E to some customers – and is compensating about 4,500 for the delay.
The Detroit automaker says the delays are due to a desire to ensure quality with additional checks before the vehicles leave the factory. Ford informed 4,500 early Mach-E customers that it will double the amount of free power they will get, with the automaker covering up to $1,000 in loan payments for 150 buyers.
“Quality is a top priority,” Ford said in a statement e-mailed to TheDetroitBureau.com. “For Mustang Mach-E customers who have experienced delays receiving their vehicles, we are providing an additional 250 kilowatt-hours of complimentary charging on the FordPass Charging Network. This applies to approximately 4,500 customers, including about 1,500 of whom have already received their Mach-E.”
The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle. It officially went into production last October, sales launched two months later. But dealer supplies have been extremely thin so far.
When asked why additional quality checks were needed, Ford spokesman Michael Levine said, “So our customers get a great vehicle.”
Delays not linked to chip shortages
Levine said the delays had nothing to do with the ongoing microchip shortages that have hampered automotive production in recent weeks. The automaker halted or slowed operations at several plants during the past month, impacting the F-150 pickup and several SUVs.
Several industry analysts have warned that production of electric vehicles could be particular vulnerable to the chip shortages because the typical EV uses substantial more of the devices than gas-powered products. Tesla recently shut down its California plant for several days for just that reason.
Ford first signaled in January that it was running additional quality checks on “several hundred” of the battery-powered crossovers. The automaker said at the time delivery delays could run as long as eight weeks.
The company made that announcement at about the same time the Mustang Mach-E was named North American Utility of the Year by a jury of 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists.
Ford wants to avoid another major launch embarrassment
Ford has experienced launch problems with a number of products in recent years. Such headaches delayed deliveries of the latest-generation Ford Explorer and led to the automaker taking a hit in the latest Consumer Reports automotive reliability survey.
The carmaker declined to provide details about why the additional inspections are being made. The fact they result in more than brief delivery delays suggest some rework is required, one knowledgeable insider said on background.
At the very least, those familiar with the Mach-E program suggested the automaker wants to make absolutely certain it doesn’t run into the same sort of headaches that it experienced with the Explorer and other recent launches.
Taking a shot at Tesla
Darren Palmer, the head of Ford electric vehicle operations, clearly doesn’t want the launch of the Mach-E stained, especially after taking shots at Tesla for the widely reported quality problems it faced with the Model Y crossover – the Mach-E’s direct competitor.
The MachEForum, an owner and fan website, listed a number of issues reported by Mach-E customers who have taken delivery. Though some involve mechanical issues, like panel gaps and a noisy panoramic roof, most of the reports center around digital technology, such as a balky infotainment system or a charging problem. Most problems appear to be minor and extremely limited in number.
Ford appears willing to delay deliveries and, if necessary, compensate customers, to ensure such problems are not more endemic.
Targeting 50,000 sales in 2021
Ford CEO Jim Farley referred to the Mach-E as the “first credible mass-market competitor to Tesla” during an earnings call last month.
The BEV has received numerous kudos, including the Utility-of-the-Year award, and there are signs that it is gaining momentum in the market, despite delivery delays.
Tesla’s share of the U.S. battery market fell to 69% in February, a full 12-point year-over-year decline.
In a note to investors, widely followed Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said the Mach-E was responsible for “nearly 100% of the share loss.”
Ford has yet to reveal sales numbers, though it claims that a launch edition model sold out soon after the Mustang Mach-E was revealed in November 2019. It was targeting deliveries of 50,000 of the electric crossovers this year.