Dealers are preparing to make some short-term and long-term changes to cope with the coming 2015 Ford F-150, which many are expecting to show up at Detroit's 2014 North American International Auto Show (public days are Jan. 18-26).
According to the Detroit News, some dealerships are stockpiling 2014 F-150s in anticipation of the coming shortage as Ford slows and shuts down production — at different times — at the Kansas City, Mo., and Dearborn, Mich., truck plants where the half-ton pickup trucks are built.
Additionally, some Ford dealerships are heavily investing in upgrading their body shops to cope with the more labor-intensive procedures and practices involved with working with aluminum. Several reports throughout the year have suggested that the 2015 F-150 could be lighter by as much as 750 pounds (depending on model), with much of the weight savings coming from the extensive use of aluminum, composites and possibly carbon fiber.
Naturally, dealerships and auto body repair facilities would have to be trained and certified in aluminum repairs if the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. uses those materials.
As to whether there will be significant 2015 F-150 shortages as Ford transitions from its 2014 models, Automotive News reported earlier this year that Ford might be incorporating some plant changes that will allow the company to produce both old and new pickups on the same assembly line as it moves from "old" to "new" F-150 model years. Whether that strategy — not tried in previous changeovers — will alleviate shortfalls remains to be seen.