Ford Delays Vehicles After Running Out of Badges

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With supply constraints persisting within the automotive industry, the knowledge that a manufacturer has induced a production stall due to a lack of parts is hardly big news. Nobody seems able to source enough batteries and the semiconductor shortage has left automakers dealing with routine factory shutdowns. But Ford seems to be confronting one of the saddest examples we’ve yet seen and has confirmed that it’s delaying trucks – seemingly because it doesn’t have enough trim badging or Blue Ovals to go around.

Granted, this is relatively small potatoes compared to earlier production stalls. In 2021, Ford was building mostly functional vehicles without semiconductors and just letting them sit around until the chips finally arrived. Though this was becoming brutally common among automakers after pandemic-related restrictions completely upended the supply chain. General Motors took a similar approach and was estimated to have roughly 100,000 partially built vehicles just sitting around over the summer. Many companies likewise elected to stop production altogether while others (e.g. Audi and GM) offered special trims that were effectively discontented base models requiring fewer computer chips.

Considering the above, it’s no wonder that the latest studies have suggested vehicles manufactured over the last couple of years have had some reliability issues vs their predecessors. Everyone’s been scrambling to maintain increasingly scaled-back production schedules during a period where nobody knew if they’d have the right components. While the situation has improved somewhat recently, the case of Ford running out of badges is a reminder that we’re not yet out of the woods.

The manufacturer began storing unfinished F-Series pickups at the Kentucky Speedway late last month – something it also did last year due to the semiconductor shortage. Last week, Ford also said it expects to have about 40,000 to 45,000 vehicles in inventory at the end of the third quarter that couldn’t be shipped to dealers because they were awaiting needed parts. The company later confirmed with The Wall Street Journal that these units were primarily high-margin trucks and SUVs suffering from component shortages that “primarily involved parts other than semiconductors.”

While the company declined to commit to a lack of badges being a contributing factor, it’s hard to presume they made no difference considering the timing. A Michigan-based supplier (Tribar Technologies) known to have produced badges for Ford disclosed to regulators at the end of the summer that it had accidentally dumped industrial-grade chemicals (hexavalent chromium) into the local sewer system. As a result, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy shut the company’s operations down in August.

It certainly makes Ford look bad. But the reality of the situation is that just about everyone is still having trouble with suppliers. In addition to the ongoing deficit of computer chips and EV batteries, automakers are citing insufficient amounts of glass, carpet, rubber, and seating coming from suppliers. Ford’s issue just happens to be funnier because badging is probably the most non-essential part of any car (effectively serving as a form of advertising) and the company’s emblems haven’t been known for standing up to the test of time. There are even forum threads dedicated to this singular issue.

As someone who has owned a handful of Ford products myself, I can attest to this being anecdotally true. But it seems to be a matter of quality control from the supplier, rather than some universal defect. Ironically, the one Blue Oval that stayed the bluest was affixed to my 1998 Crown Victoria LX – a vehicle that spent the vast majority of its life sleeping outdoors.

Regardless of how well they hold up, Ford needs to address the badge problem and any other supply constraints it’s currently dealing with immediately. The company recently reported that shipment delays will shift some revenue to the fourth quarter and estimates quarterly results will be $1 billion shy of its previous targets due to higher payments going to suppliers and general inflationary pressures. Its stock valuation has also been moving in the wrong direction, though Wall Street has been trending downward generally of late. 

Based on the present state of the industry, I'm sure they could come up with a clever name for models sold sans-badge and convince customers to pay for the emblem-delete option. I can even imagine the ad campaign copy: "People don't deserve to be labeled, why should your truck?"

[Image: Neveshkin Nikolay/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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5 of 33 comments
  • TheMrFreeze TheMrFreeze on Sep 28, 2022

    You can' t tell me that Ford doesn't have a warehouse full of 3D printers that could pump out some temporary Ford badges to get new owners by until the real ones are available again. Preventing the sale of a $40K vehicle for a $3 badge is bad business

    • See 2 previous
    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Sep 29, 2022

      These missing badges can be added to the list of missing items on Ford's trucks. I just saw a video of the Kentucky Speedway from a couple days ago - from empty on 16 August the speedway is now full of Super Duty's (40k or so) awaiting components to complete assembly:

  • RHD RHD on Sep 29, 2022

    Too bad Ford axed the Mercury brand. There must be pallets and crates of old Mercury badges just sitting around that they could use.

  • Scott Miata for the win.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X On a list of things to spend my time and money on, doing an EV conversion on a used car is about ten millionth.
  • TheEndlessEnigma No, no I would/will not.
  • ChristianWimmer If I want an EV then I’ll buy an EV. For city use a small EV with a 200-300 km range (aka “should last for a week with A/C or heater usage”) is ideal. But I only have space for one daily driver and that daily driver also needs to be capable of comfortable long-distance cruising at high speeds and no current EV can do this without rapidly draining its battery charge.
  • SCE to AUX I prefer original, no matter what the car is. If the car has some value, then an electric drivetrain lowers its value. But if it's just a used car, why spend a fortune to install an electric drivetrain?