Why The Aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 Is Having A Disappointing Year

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After taking tons of money and infrastructure to build, the 2015 Ford F-150 has had everybody’s attention all year. And F-Series sales have been looking... kinda weak. Now we’re seeing big discounts on the new truck. So what’s the deal?

Check the scoreboard.

Ford F-Series Sales20152014Change

There are the 2015 F-Series sales numbers so far compared to last year, straight from Ford’s beancounting division. As you can see, they’ve been down every month since January with particularly rough performances over the last two months.

Meanwhile the Chevrolet Silverado, “number two” since forever, is creeping up quick just a tiny percent behind on sales in June. GM’s combined full-size truck effort (Silverado plus the GMC Sierra) is blowing Ford out of the water.

“But I thought F-150s were flying off lots?”

They are. As The Detroit News says, F-Series trucks are “selling twice as fast” as other full-sized pickups sitting on lots for an average of 32 days. On top of that F-150s are supposedly selling for more money on average than any other half-ton truck.


That would suggest people want F-150s, and they want the fancy ones.

“So Ford just... doesn’t have enough trucks to sell?”

Haha, I know right? But yes, Ford has been blaming short supply for their poor sales performance for months. AutoBlog described the company’s struggle to put enough F-150s on lots back in March when only the Dearborn, Michigan plant had been converted to built the all-new aluminum-bodied truck.


Ford promised that once they got the Kansas City plant operational, they’d be humming “by the middle of the year.” So now it’s the middle of the year and as of early June they tell us they’re back to “full production.”

Ford clarified: “We had our lowest F-150 inventory in the May-June time period - about half the inventory we had at the same time last year.”


“Why didn’t they plan better for this?”

Great question, and one Ford declined to answer.

From where I’m standing, Ford obviously knew the “factory changeover” to build 2015 F-150s would mean massive downtime and a production dip. They also must have hoped to sell more of these things than the did last year. So where did they fail?


Then again, I’m a dork sitting at a computer not the head of a billion-dollar car company. Perhaps they did project a supply bottleneck would drop their sales this year and figure they can shrug off the hit and bounce back. If that’s the case, we won’t know how it plays out for them until another six months go by.

Will a Ford dealer pleeease just leak us an angry motivational e-mail from corporate, already?


“Speaking of Ford dealers I heard they’re knocking like ten grand off new F-150s. That must mean they’re desperate, right?”


USA Today and others have latched on to the fact that Ford is offering some big discounts on certain variations of the 2015 F-150 as a sign that the trucks aren’t selling well.


Specifically, Ford’s consumer site is advertising $7,050 off on the 2015 SuperCab or SuperCrew XLT with the 2.7 liter engine and “Chrome” or “Sport” package. But that includes a “$500 Customer Cash” offer, a “$1,000 Customer Cash” offer if you buy the XLT trim, a “$300 Bonus Cash” offer if you buy the 2.7 V6 EcoBoost engine, and a bunch of other asterisks that require you to buy from dealer stock, by the end of the month, finance with Ford, and so on.

So, the discounts in question are on extremely specific vehicles and frankly I think I’ve seen “five grand off!” “ten grand off!” from just about everybody selling trucks.


The question is: why would Ford bother with incentive deals if they’re already short on trucks to sell?

I have a hypothesis here: that Ford is selling plenty of high-end King Ranch and Platinum trucks to early adopters who see the 2015 truck’s new technology as a good thing.


But plain ol’ truck buyers who don’t read blogs or spend two years salary on a pickup, and there are lots of ‘em out there, are starting to freak out about this “aluminum” nonsense that may or may not be harder to repair and these wild turbo motors that, well, they just ain’t V8s.

Meanwhile GM’s trucks are still made of steel. Remember steel? You welded it in shop class. (Is shop class still a thing, even?) Silverado also offers the best overall loadout for your money for trucks under forty grand.


And while the new F-150 has proven its durability with awesome crash-test numbers, as far as fuel economy gains and real world running-cost savings we just ain’t seeing it.

The EPA figures on EcoBoost engines across the board have hardly blown the doors off GM or Ram, and when I personally put a Chevy 6.2 V8 against Ford’s aluminum body and 3.5 EcoBoost in regular everyday driving it was 17 MPG even to 16.8... advantage Chevrolet. And that was before their V8 was paired with an eight-speed automatic.


In fairness to Ford, the 3.5 felt a lot quicker.

Of course at the end of the day all truck sales figures are intentionally misleading.


Oh yeah! Should I have mentioned that sooner?

Anybody paying attention will notice there are places I referred to Ford “F-Series” and “F-150” sales in this article. You may also know that those terms do not mean the same thing.


“F-Series” accounts for the F-150, F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickup. Just like Chevy’s “Silverado” sales figure includes their whole lineup of half, three-quarter, and one-ton trucks. Ram does the same thing.

The Big Three automakers do not regularly report their truck sales by model because they don’t have to, and obviously they don’t want to.


But often times this gets ignored and the issue is confused, when sites take the “F-Series” sales figure and re-reporting it as “F-150.” That’s probably “pretty close,” but fundamentally erroneous. We all assume the F-150 represents the majority of F-Series sales but you won’t see a hard number on that from Ford.

Truck sales are like this: Imagine an island populated by creatures called Sneetches. In this scenario we all assume a majority have Stars on their belly, a minority do not, but the spread is not known. A report comes out that says “The Sneetches Are Fatter This Year.” So magazines say “Star-Bellied Sneetches Are Fatter This Year” because the star-bellied ones are the hot story.


Any of this sounding familiar?

Thing is the F-250, F-350, and F-450 are not just “also rans.” They represent a significant portion of Ford’s truck sales.


So when we see F-Series sales are down, it’s impossible to pin down how much of that is even attributed to the F-150. Same goes for the other two brands.

“Where does this leave us?”

Well now we have it in writing that Ford is at full F-150 capacity starting June 1st. We also see that their June sales still kind of stunk. Let’s keep checking back and see how the F-Series performs for the rest of the year, and of course have things convoluted all over again when the F-250, F-350, and F-450 move to aluminum with their upcoming redesign and affect sales numbers all over again.


Image via Ford

Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.