In a recent announcement, the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration has triggered a recall that could affect nearly one million Ford trucks, setting off alarm bells in the automotive industry. While the issue at hand may appear minor, it has left Ford owners wondering about the state of the industry and the relentless competition in the electric vehicle (EV) market.
The recall, impacting a whopping 979,797 trucks, is not related to engine performance or mechanical components. Rather, it centers around a seemingly innocuous oversight—a missing piece of information in the vehicle owner’s manuals. This absence pertains to crucial instructions on how to remove or adjust “certain head restraints.” It’s worth noting that federal regulations mandate the inclusion of these instructions in owner’s manuals, and it has come to light that manuals for 37 different model-year vehicles and configurations failed to meet these requirements.
Among the affected vehicles are the 2018-2023 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs with third-row seating, as well as the 2019-2023 regular cab F-Series Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550, and F-650 SuperCab trucks featuring three-passenger front bench seats. Ford has promptly acknowledged the issue and committed to rectifying it by adding the missing instructions to the manual and sending them to affected truck owners. The company attributed this oversight to human error, emphasizing that it doesn’t affect the vehicles’ core functionality.
However, this recall is just the tip of the iceberg for Ford’s recent woes. Earlier this month, the company issued another recall, this time affecting over 125,000 Ford Escape, Ford Maverick, and Lincoln Corsair vehicles. The reason behind this recall is far more serious—a heightened fire risk due to engine failure. Ford has advised customers that if they notice unexpected engine noises, power loss, or detect the smell of smoke emanating from their vehicles, they should immediately park the car and shut off the engine as a precautionary measure.
Ford’s recent troubles are not isolated incidents. Competing automakers are grappling with their own set of challenges. Chrysler, for instance, recalled over 80,000 of its 2014-2019 Ram 1500 and 2014-2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles due to potential crankshaft failure problems. Additionally, nearly 12,500 of its 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles were recalled over concerns related to engine failure.
Notably, Ford faced earlier setbacks this year concerning its EV batteries, which led to production pauses and shipment delays. The issues with the electric vehicle’s batteries surfaced during pre-delivery inspections of the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s flagship electric truck. At the time, Ford remained tight-lipped about the specifics of the problem but acknowledged the need to halt production and shipments temporarily.
Ford’s share prices dipped following these announcements, a clear indication of the fierce competition in the electric vehicle market. Tesla, a major disruptor in the EV landscape, has shaken the industry with its ability to leverage economies of scale and offer competitive pricing. For example, the Tesla Model Y witnessed a substantial price drop from $66,000 to $53,000, with potential federal tax credits further reducing the cost by $7,500. Moreover, at the start of the year, Tesla reduced prices by nearly 25 percent compared to the previous year’s peak. This price reduction was approximately twice the average decline seen across the car industry.
For traditional automakers like Ford, this relentless pressure on pricing margins is a significant concern. Tesla’s willingness to sacrifice some of its substantial operating margins is squeezing its competitors, leaving Ford shareholders concerned about the company’s future in the EV market. The implications of these market dynamics are far-reaching, potentially impacting the market for traditional gas-powered combustion engines.
As the automotive industry continues to evolve, Ford and other established manufacturers must adapt to stay competitive in the electric vehicle market. The race is on to meet consumer demands for cleaner, more efficient transportation, and it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious in this high-stakes battle.