The Successful Truck Ford Doesn’t Want to Sell You

  • July 7, 2023

Ford tries hard to sell the F-150 Lightning electric truck – but not many are buying. Probably because it is too expensive. Among other things.

Then there’s the Maverick.

This truck is such a hot seller Ford can’t keep up with demand. Probably because it’s so affordable.

Well, it was.

When it came out in 2021 as a new-for-2022 model, it stickered for just under $20,000 to start – which is about a third as much to start as a new F-150 Lightning costs. Lots of people could afford a new Maverick –  and lots of people wanted to buy one, too, because in addition to being affordable to buy it was (and is) also affordable to drive.

This compact-sized hybrid truck can travel more than 40 miles (in city driving) on a gallon of the gas that’s about twice as expensive to buy now than it was when Orange Man Bad. This makes it almost as economical as the diesel-powered small trucks you used to be able to buy in the Before Time but cannot in our times, as a consequence of the strangulating regulations issued by the same federal apparat that also says it’s necessary to “increase fuel efficiency.” In fact, the apparat uses the pretext of “fuel efficiency” to decrease the size of engines, with the end goal being to eliminate them altogether. By now, this ought to be clear to even the politically glaucomic.

Back to the Maverick.

When Ford announced you could buy this 40 MPG-capable truck for just under $20k, people lined up around the block. They put real money down – as opposed to making a “reservation” to buy an electric vehicle like the Lighting. Many such “reservations” were cancelled as the people who made them developed reservations about actually buying a Lighnting on account of the truth about it (and EVs in general) getting past the propaganda about it.

The Lightning can pull a 10,000 pound trailer! Just not very far. The Maverick can go more than 500 miles on 14 gallons of gas – as opposed to 240 miles after 11 hours of charging. Like the compact-sized trucks that were once made by every major vehicle manufacturer – and some of the minor ones, too – the Maverick was both useful and affordable.

The kind of truck lots of people can use – and can afford. And therefore, want.

And no one else makes such a truck. The others all sell mid-sized (and larger) trucks, many of which people also want but which fewer can afford because they all cost a lot more than less-than-$20k-to-start.

And now so does the Maverick.

Ford just announced its base price will no longer be just under $20k but just shy of $25k – but it’s actually just shy of $27k. The reason why is that the 40-miles-per-gallon hybrid drivetrain that was standard when the Maverick came out last year will be a $1,500 option henceforth. The ’24 Maverick will comes standard with the previously optional 2.0 liter turbocharged engine that does not deliver 40-miles-per-gallon.

It delivers 28 miles-per-gallon. That’s on the highway. In the city, it delivers 22 miles-per-gallon. The hybrid Maverick goes 33 on the highway (and averages 37 because it gets 40 in the city).

The nut of it is that you’ll henceforth either pay about $7k more to get the version that gets 40 MPG or you’ll pay $1,500 less than that to get about ten miles-per-gallon less.

Why would Ford do this?

Fewer people will be able to afford the upsell – and fewer people are likely to want a Maverick now that its former chief merits no longer are. If you’re going to spend not-far-from $30k on a truck, it’s not that far a jump to a larger – and more capable – truck. In fact, you can buy a Ranger – Ford’s mid-sized truck – for about the same (its base price is $27,400) and unlike the Maverick, which is a lighter-duty vehicle built on a passenger-car-like FWD layout (AWD is optional) the Ranger is a real truck, with available 4WD and Low range gearing and so more capable and rugged than the Maverick.

Why spend the same to get less?

Doubtless, many Maverick-inclined buyers will be asking themselves that very question. But why would Ford undermine the Maverick, which sells better – by far – than the Ranger?

Last year, Ford sold 74,370 Mavericks vs. 56,987 Rangers – and probably could have sold more Mavericks if it had been able to build more of them. Instead, it spent a great deal of effort building – and marketing – Lightnings, which Ford sold about 15,000 of in 2022.

Maybe that explains it.

Maybe a Maverick that sells for less than $20k that gets 40 MPG and goes 500-plus miles on 14 gallons of gas is too striking a contrast to the truck Ford wants to sell that costs $60k (almost) and goes 240 miles (maybe) after it’s been plugged into your house for about 11 hours.

Kind of like the 50-MPG plus, 600 miles-of-range (and $22k-ish-to-start) diesel-powered VWs that were conveniently found to be “cheating” back in 2016 – just in time for the $50k-plus EV juggernaut to get going.

Some will say Ford was losing money on the under-$20k Maverick hybrid and so had to increase what it costs to buy one in order to not lose money selling them. But Ford is losing much more money on the almost-$60k Lightning and its other EVs, to the expected tune of some $3 billion dollars, as recently admitted to by Ford CEO Jim Farley.

Demand for the Maverick could make it very profitable to sell at $20k. All Ford would have to do, probably, to make it happen would be to sell more of them. Volume would make up for lower (per vehicles) profit margins.

Ask Henry Ford.

But there will never be enough demand to make the almost-$60k-to-start Lightning profitable because there just aren’t that many people who can afford to buy an almost-$60k-to-start anything. That figure is approximately the equivalent of the average American family’s entire annual pre-tax income. This begs some interesting questions about the purpose of making vehicles that average Americans cannot afford to buy – while raising the price of those they can afford to buy.

. . .

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