Good things come to those who wait. At least, that’s the idea behind reserving a car that’s a long time away from being delivered — if it’s ever delivered at all. When Ford opened reservations for the redesigned Ford Bronco in 2020, the carmaker invited buyers to pay a deposit for a place in what would turn out to be a very long line. But some people who reserved a Bronco two years ago are losing their place in that line, because Ford keeps adjusting the order of its Bronco deliveries, as Bloomberg reports.
Early reservation holders are reportedly not prioritized because Ford is sending Broncos to dealers in larger cities, or those who sell more cars. That makes sense and isn’t completely unexpected. The problem is these dealers are selling the Broncos at prices that are marked up, while people who reserved a Bronco are stuck waiting. So if you wanted a Bronco at MSRP (base price of $29,300,) not even reserving one in 2020 would’ve helped.
If you wanted a Bronco by 2022, the answer is to pay dealer markups. Really, all “market adjustments” are bad enough, but when they allow big dealers to cut the line, it calls the whole concept of reservations into question. The expectation is that deliveries are on a first-come, first-served basis, but that’s not the case here. Per Bloomberg:
Ford convinced its most loyal customers to order vehicles months in advance, but the line of reservations has been far from first-come, first-served. Large dealerships are taking priority over smaller stores in the digital queue, primarily disadvantaging rural customers. And Ford has acknowledged hundreds of dealers are charging over the sticker price, which those stores call a “market adjustment.”
With a coveted model, priority typically goes to larger dealers and those who hustle to sell less popular models. With the Bronco, Ford said only half of its shipments would be routed based on online reservations; another quarter would be sent based on the location of the dealerships, with larger markets getting priority, and the final 25% would be sent based on historic volume of sales, with bigger, busier stores taking precedent.
The 2020 reservations weren’t for a Bronco, then, but for a kind of lottery in which depending on where you live and your local Ford dealer’s volume, you may or may not get a Bronco anytime soon. Ford countered by offering to let customers transfer their orders to other dealers and allegedly honoring the prices at the time of reservation.
And Bloomberg says Ford claimed it’ll punish dealers that sell at prices over MSRP by not allocating stock in the future. That sounds like Broncos won’t go to these dealers anymore, and maybe go to a reservation holder instead.
Except that Ford changed its allocation formula so that four out of ten Broncos are up for grabs, and up for markups:
However, Ford also has loosened rules about how closely dealers have to stick to the reservation line. At first, the company required that 80% of new Broncos be matched to a name on the digital order list, according to several dealers; today that’s just 60%. So four out of 10 new Broncos can go to a walk-in customer or the highest bidder.
Bloomberg cites dealers in less-populated areas who’ve been overlooked for deliveries, too, despite getting hundreds of reservations. One dealer in Iowa had 1,300 Bronco reservations and was only able to fill 150 orders throughout 2021. An important point is that the dealer drew a lot of reservations by pricing the Bronco $1,000 below MSRP.
At that the current rate of delivery, some early reservation holders could be waiting for years. Or, you know, they could just pay a dealer markup and drive off a lot today. We’ve asked Ford to comment about the order of deliveries and will update this post if Ford responds.
Update Tuesday, February 15, 2022 11:47 a.m. EST:
A Ford spokesperson replied to our request for comment. The company says it’s ramping up production of the Bronco, which echoes comments from the company’s CEO. Jim Farley told Bloomberg the company would try to scale Bronco production fast, but would have to “communicate to (buyers) what’s realistic.” The statement Ford provided to us is the following:
Meeting the phenomenal demand and interest for the Bronco during the pandemic and supply chain crisis has been challenging. We are increasing production as quickly as possible to help meet this demand. We are aware that some customers who placed orders at certain dealerships may be waiting longer than expected. We are investigating why this has occurred at a limited number of dealerships. While each Ford dealer is independently owned and operated, Ford Motor Company is doing as much as we can during these unprecedented times to deliver Bronco SUVs to customers as quickly as possible. This includes providing price protection through the 2023 model year for customers with orders placed before March 19, 2021, continuing to offer new special editions and options to thank them for their loyalty and patience. Additionally, if a customer isn’t happy with their dealer experience, they have an option to transfer their reservation or unscheduled order to a different dealer. We encourage customers that may have questions or concerns to contact the Ford Bronco Support Team at 1-800-334-4375.
In response to the question about allocations, regardless of the vehicle, we communicate to our dealers that we expect them to operate within Ford’s allocation system, which treats all dealers fairly and complies with state laws, and to not take customer orders in excess of what the dealer knows it can fill.
For reference, the Bronco orders have been filled at a rate of about 12-15 vehicle deliveries per month at some dealers, per Bloomberg. If you are number 400 in the queue for a Bronco at your dealer, it might be a while.