Dealers Who Flip Ford F-150 Lightning Demo Trucks Face $25K Fine

They have to hold onto them for six months before selling.

byRob Stumpf| PUBLISHED May 6, 2022 3:48 PM
Dealers Who Flip Ford F-150 Lightning Demo Trucks Face $25K Fine
Caleb Jacobs / The Drive
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Customers looking to buy one of Ford's electric F-150 Lightning pickups may be waiting a while to get their hands on one. Ford has at least 200,000 reservations on the books and with an annual production capacity of 150,000 units, there's a clear recipe for dealer markup. Of course, Ford's no stranger to those.

With at least one guaranteed early unit available to all EV-certified dealers as part of a customer demo program, Ford has a few words of warning for dealers thinking about flipping the trucks for a quick buck: don't.

F150LightningForum.com

Recently, a letter allegedly sent from Ford HQ to dealerships outlining the truck's mannequin program was posted on F150LightningForum. The letter states that if a dealership sells its allocated demo unit, Ford will impose a $25,000 penalty unless the dealership can replace it within 90 days—an unlikely event given the backlog that's already amassed.

These demo trucks are provided as part of the Ford Courtesy Transportation Program. Essentially, dealerships are sent a vehicle ahead of customer allocations to use for demo purposes. It's really a way for Ford to put the Lightning in front of customers on a showroom floor instead of on a screen or brochure.

Generally, these demo vehicles come with certain restrictions for how long they need to be in service before being sold to a customer. In the case of the F-150 Lightning, dealers must retain vehicles for at least six months, regardless of the number of miles accumulated in that time period. It's similar to the requirements set for Ford Bronco mannequin units.

I know what you're thinking. "But Rob, if people are willing to pay $325,000 for a Hummer EV, surely they'll pay more than a $25,000 markup for the Lightning." You're probably right, but in addition to being slapped with the $25,000 penalty, the dealer may also lose incentives for the sale and potentially become ineligible for future Ford mannequin programs.

Maybe, just maybe, that's a serious enough threat to discourage dealers from scalping their demo trucks to the highest bidder.

Ford did not confirm or deny the legitimacy of the letter, but instead provided The Drive with the following statement regarding its mannequin program:

"We know there is tremendous customer excitement for the new electric F-150 Lightning. We worked with our dealers to ensure customers will have the opportunity to visit a dealer and drive and experience the new electric F-150 Lightning ahead of deciding to order one."

While this isn't exactly good news for eager reservation holders with a wallet full of cash and a desire to jump the line, it is a positive spin for potential customers still deciding if an electric pickup is right for them. By having these trucks on dealer lots, Ford can potentially put a lot of folks behind the wheel and convert them to sales—and better yet, to electrification.

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