Industry Professionals: Let's Grade Ford.

vrewald14

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I thought it would be interesting (and valuable) for professionals in industry to have a thought provoking thread discussing all aspects of the new Bronco release from the perspective of industry professionals – NOT an average customer. NO dumb questions about “can I get this option with that option” or general bashing allowed here. Maybe we'll learn something here that will carry over into our work lives.

So, product managers, engineers, assembly workers, mechanics, production planners, procurement and supply chain folks – take off your “customer” hat for this thread and put on your “business” hat to grade Ford from your professional perspective. What is your impression of how this new product development and release has gone, what does it mean for Ford in the future, and what would you have done differently or the same?

Here’s my take:

I am a Product Portfolio Manager within the off-highway hydraulics industry but hold an engineering degree as well. My career started in product engineering and also applications engineering. Currently it’s my job to be responsible for an overall portfolio of products to ensure that cost and profitability targets are hit, ensure that we are fulfilling the customer’s current and future needs, and ensure that we are managing the life cycle of our product well. My experience has given me a broad business perspective and I enjoy thinking about what Ford has, is, and will be going through. Here are some examples of how I would grade Ford and some opportunities for them to improve next time around.

New Bronco Overall Product fit vs. Customer Needs: A-

I think Ford did a great job of getting out in front of their customers and conducting REAL “Voice of Customer” activity and it shows. Everything from the way that they considered where to put grab handles for easy entry and exit, to considering the fact that if I want to take my doors off regularly, they need to be easy to manage and I need a place to put them. The special “Bronco” stamped fasteners are INGENIOUS. I hope they can patent that somehow. That is a fantastic way to have an active conversation with your customer base years after the product is purchased. Versus the competition it seems they’re taking some “extra steps” that could really differentiate them long term with the product overall. I did not give them higher than an A- because my current impression is that they are being sticklers about key option combinations that clearly customers want, but they are not prepared to offer (manual + sasquatch, air conditioned seats, etc. etc.). These are trade off decisions that any industry pro should recognize and be willing to wrestle with – so if Ford internally accepts that they must make these trade offs then it’s OK by me.

Variation Management: A

Operations and supply chain pros be happy. With a highly modular product like this new Bronco, it would be SUPER easy for Sales & Marketing to create an Initial Option Portfolio which is TEN TIMES bigger than what you see now (it’s already huge!). I think it’s remarkable that Ford has stuck to its guns with the limitation of certain features to certain options or packages. Ex. – sway bar disconnects ONLY on 2 versions. Apparently only ONE interior available for First Editions. Sasquatch with auto trannies ONLY. It would be very easy for product marketing to say “give use these options – I have lots of demand!”, but somewhere someone in OPS is saying, nah bro – too much for us to handle go fly a kite you got most of what you wanted. I can truly appreciate that. So, although strict variation management is never popular with customers, well done Ford you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Initial Release Event: C+

Call me crazy but I think Ford knew exactly what was going to happen with the technical glitches and site crashing on night of the release. They just chose not to prevent it from happening. This isn’t rocket science: high site traffic equals technical difficulties. I don’t believe anyone at Ford got fired over it. The reality is that limited IT resources are a serious problem with website support, virtual launch, and configurator implementations and this was no exception. However, there is still a lot of hurt customers over this and that’s why they get a C+. They didn’t get an F because honestly, they accomplished their goal of having an awesome presentation of the product and creating high demand. But they did not pass with flying colors because the vast majority of customers had issues.

Product Design and Approach: A+

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the initial reaction of “they knocked it out of the park” or “they nailed it” on this one. Heck – my wife and I are both super excited about the same vehicle and decided to put in a reservation! We have NEVER purchased new before. That’s telling you something. There’s something about the way the design works with the image, history, and engineering with the new Bronco that brings everything together in a way that every true “enthusiast” just gets and doesn’t question. I’m very impressed how they were able to incorporate the classic Bronco’s styling into the new version amongst other things.

Engineering: B+

Time will tell the verdict on this grade more clearly, but it is very apparent that Ford Engineering is making overall good decisions on robustness of components which balances with the cost that a typical consumer is willing to pay. In addition to component selection, it is very clear that the validation processes they are going through are likely very sound. Especially true looking at the evidence of their test mules being thrashed all over the place. I have read / heard in an article somewhere that the solid front axle was never really a consideration for the new Bronco. Makes complete sense to me from an engineering perspective where the customer base is understood not to be the MOST hardcore rock crawler, but an adventure-seeking enthusiast who’s more likely to run moderate trails easily conquered with IFS, and more appreciative of excellent on-road manners and modern driving features. I did not rate higher than a B because of lack of long-term robustness evidence and a few pieces of evidence that make me question some choices… Two examples being the hypothetical concern over matching 35” tires with the manual transmission, and the apparent very low placement of alternators on 2.7L engines.

EDIT: 8/10 - I'm bumping this score up to a B+ due to the clear demonstration of real-world testing in extreme environments. They are clearly testing the foreseen customer use cases and being relentless about "thrashing" things to find weak points. Just about the only reason at this point not to go to an "A" is because of not knowing extended life durability / reliability and wet condition performance. What will happen when they pack that front end full of mud then try to drive it 200 miles home...

Public Relations: C

Ford’s public relations skills suck. This is the most concerning thing to me about this entire launch. I understand that this is a major product family launch in a “new era” of technological communications channels, but dammit if feels like they didn’t have a good plan. They should understand that in this era, literally every little piece of digital communication matters – they should have used that to inspire confidence with their customer base, but instead it seems that they’ve being continually decreasing their customers’ confidence. As I’ve seen stated many times, “they had us by the balls” on release night and they could have had us anyway they wanted to, but instead terribly written and executed tweets, difficult to find and sometimes conflicting technical information, and poor explanation of option dependence's have led the forum scene to run rampant with rumor mill gossip and bashing leading to customer reneging or reducing their purchase certainty. Do yourselves a favor and find yourselves someone who Tweets in complete sentences Ford. Another contributing factor to the bad PR score here is certainly the confusion and dissatisfaction around the dealer selection in the reservation process. It was very difficult to determine what was truth or lie as it relates to switching dealers and how to go about doing it. Finally, although I know it’s not necessary, Ford you needed to have a damn product roadshow. Inspire confidence in your customers by sending out prototype or production intent units to every state and let them do a tour of the dealers so that customers can look, touch, feel, and “buy in” to your product.

I’ll end on a positive note by saying I thought it was a fantastic idea to do a “live Q&A” via Twitter. I had low expectations and they were met, but I think this could be a valuable customer communications channel going forward and the customer base really did like the idea of getting some questions answered all at once.

EDIT:8/10 - I'm bumping this score to a C. Ford has taken a very interesting approach in boosting customer confidence in the overall product. They have embraced the idea of social media documentation and promotion of actual product performance in unfiltered environments. All of the recent videos from Rubicon and Moab are a clear indication they are unafraid to bash this thing in front of people to prove it does the job and keeps going. This is not easy for a large OEM to accept - and it is VERY risky. They are potentially revealing failure points of a product that is about to go into production. VERY good for boosting customer confidence in overall product performance.

I think it will be difficult to improve their score above "C", due to all the other option / communication issues I still feel are a problem, but hey maybe they will improve upon that in the coming months!

Conclusion: Nice job overall!

Overall Ford I think you’re doing a great job. But there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ll stop my rambling now, but there’s a lot I have not covered so I can’t wait to see other’s present their discussion and views. As I think of more things I’ll share them too!

Reminder: NO STUIPID OPTION / RECOMMENDATION QUESTIONS HERE – go find another thread for that.





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toystwo

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I generally agree with your ratings. Your F for PR would have all been prevented if they had just Set Expectations at launch with a full road map of all the major steps/activities with dates.
 
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vrewald14

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I generally agree with your ratings. Your F for PR would have all been prevented if they had just Set Expectations at launch with a full road map of all the major steps/activities with dates.
Something else that would have been very helpful is a list of definitions of those same steps/activities.

I still don't think I can tell you what the difference between "build and price" and "configurator" is from the customer's perspective. I think it is a bad assumption that the general public knows this or can figure it out effectively.
 

icavedin

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Spot on mate.

I’ve been taking a backseat during all this and observing from the nosebleeds (anybody got a tissue?)

This is my take re: PR;
[spoiler alert] I’m a millenial, but I do heavily sympathize for buyers/older generations who may not be on socials that are actively being left in the dark regarding product updates.
Levine’s communication means are exclusively through Twitter and it shouldn’t be up to us to track the breadcrumbs of information that he’s leaving behind - it’s exhausting to sift through the noise.
Official emails w/ Ford letterhead and domain updates on Ford.com need to be consistent so the verbiage can’t be misconstrued outside of a 150 character limit.

Accountability is key.
 
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BroncoHooves

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Engineer and patent holder here who specializes in niche industries.

Design team did a 10/10 on the Bronco.

Marketing/PR/big-wigs get a 6/10 for a lackluster rollout and conflicting information in addition to back-peddling.

You can have the best product in the world, but it can all be ruined in a heartbeat by marketing geniuses schmucks.
 

rcbickle

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I thought it would be interesting (and valuable) for professionals in industry to have a thought provoking thread discussing all aspects of the new Bronco release from the perspective of industry professionals – NOT an average customer. NO dumb questions about “can I get this option with that option” or general bashing allowed here. Maybe we'll learn something here that will carry over into our work lives.

So, product managers, engineers, assembly workers, mechanics, production planners, procurement and supply chain folks – take off your “customer” hat for this thread and put on your “business” hat to grade Ford from your professional perspective. What is your impression of how this new product development and release has gone, what does it mean for Ford in the future, and what would you have done differently or the same?

Here’s my take:

I am a Product Portfolio Manager within the off-highway hydraulics industry but hold an engineering degree as well. My career started in product engineering and also applications engineering. Currently it’s my job to be responsible for an overall portfolio of products to ensure that cost and profitability targets are hit, ensure that we are fulfilling the customer’s current and future needs, and ensure that we are managing the life cycle of our product well. My experience has given me a broad business perspective and I enjoy thinking about what Ford has, is, and will be going through. Here are some examples of how I would grade Ford and some opportunities for them to improve next time around.

New Bronco Overall Product fit vs. Customer Needs: A-

I think Ford did a great job of getting out in front of their customers and conducting REAL “Voice of Customer” activity and it shows. Everything from the way that they considered where to put grab handles for easy entry and exit, to considering the fact that if I want to take my doors off regularly, they need to be easy to manage and I need a place to put them. The special “Bronco” stamped fasteners are INGENIOUS. I hope they can patent that somehow. That is a fantastic way to have an active conversation with your customer base years after the product is purchased. Versus the competition it seems they’re taking some “extra steps” that could really differentiate them long term with the product overall. I did not give them higher than an A- because my current impression is that they are being sticklers about key option combinations that clearly customers want, but they are not prepared to offer (manual + sasquatch, air conditioned seats, etc. etc.). These are trade off decisions that any industry pro should recognize and be willing to wrestle with – so if Ford internally accepts that they must make these trade offs then it’s OK by me.

Variation Management: A

Operations and supply chain pros be happy. With a highly modular product like this new Bronco, it would be SUPER easy for Sales & Marketing to create an Initial Option Portfolio which is TEN TIMES bigger than what you see now (it’s already huge!). I think it’s remarkable that Ford has stuck to its guns with the limitation of certain features to certain options or packages. Ex. – sway bar disconnects ONLY on 2 versions. Apparently only ONE interior available for First Editions. Sasquatch with auto trannies ONLY. It would be very easy for product marketing to say “give use these options – I have lots of demand!”, but somewhere someone in OPS is saying, nah bro – too much for us to handle go fly a kite you got most of what you wanted. I can truly appreciate that. So, although strict variation management is never popular with customers, well done Ford you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Initial Release Event: C+

Call me crazy but I think Ford knew exactly what was going to happen with the technical glitches and site crashing on night of the release. They just chose not to prevent it from happening. This isn’t rocket science: high site traffic equals technical difficulties. I don’t believe anyone at Ford got fired over it. The reality is that limited IT resources are a serious problem with website support, virtual launch, and configurator implementations and this was no exception. However, there is still a lot of hurt customers over this and that’s why they get a C+. They didn’t get an F because honestly, they accomplished their goal of having an awesome presentation of the product and creating high demand. But they did not pass with flying colors because the vast majority of customers had issues.

Product Design and Approach: A+

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the initial reaction of “they knocked it out of the park” or “they nailed it” on this one. Heck – my wife and I are both super excited about the same vehicle and decided to put in a reservation! We have NEVER purchased new before. That’s telling you something. There’s something about the way the design works with the image, history, and engineering with the new Bronco that brings everything together in a way that every true “enthusiast” just gets and doesn’t question. I’m very impressed how they were able to incorporate the classic Bronco’s styling into the new version amongst other things.

Engineering: B

Time will tell the verdict on this grade more clearly, but it is very apparent that Ford Engineering is making overall good decisions on robustness of components which balances with the cost that a typical consumer is willing to pay. In addition to component selection, it is very clear that the validation processes they are going through are likely very sound. Especially true looking at the evidence of their test mules being thrashed all over the place. I have read / heard in an article somewhere that the solid front axle was never really a consideration for the new Bronco. Makes complete sense to me from an engineering perspective where the customer base is understood not to be the MOST hardcore rock crawler, but an adventure-seeking enthusiast who’s more likely to run moderate trails easily conquered with IFS, and more appreciative of excellent on-road manners and modern driving features. I did not rate higher than a B because of lack of long-term robustness evidence and a few pieces of evidence that make me question some choices… Two examples being the hypothetical concern over matching 35” tires with the manual transmission, and the apparent very low placement of alternators on 2.7L engines.

Public Relations: F

Ford’s public relations skills suck. This is the most concerning thing to me about this entire launch. I understand that this is a major product family launch in a “new era” of technological communications channels, but dammit if feels like they didn’t have a good plan. They should understand that in this era, literally every little piece of digital communication matters – they should have used that to inspire confidence with their customer base, but instead it seems that they’ve being continually decreasing their customers’ confidence. As I’ve seen stated many times, “they had us by the balls” on release night and they could have had us anyway they wanted to, but instead terribly written and executed tweets, difficult to find and sometimes conflicting technical information, and poor explanation of option dependence's have led the forum scene to run rampant with rumor mill gossip and bashing leading to customer reneging or reducing their purchase certainty. Do yourselves a favor and find yourselves someone who Tweets in complete sentences Ford. Another contributing factor to the bad PR score here is certainly the confusion and dissatisfaction around the dealer selection in the reservation process. It was very difficult to determine what was truth or lie as it relates to switching dealers and how to go about doing it. Finally, although I know it’s not necessary, Ford you needed to have a damn product roadshow. Inspire confidence in your customers by sending out prototype or production intent units to every state and let them do a tour of the dealers so that customers can look, touch, feel, and “buy in” to your product.

I’ll end on a positive note by saying I thought it was a fantastic idea to do a “live Q&A” via Twitter. I had low expectations and they were met, but I think this could be a valuable customer communications channel going forward and the customer base really did like the idea of getting some questions answered all at once.

Conclusion: Nice job overall!

Overall Ford I think you’re doing a great job. But there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ll stop my rambling now, but there’s a lot I have not covered so I can’t wait to see other’s present their discussion and views. As I think of more things I’ll share them too!

Reminder: NO STUIPID OPTION / RECOMMENDATION QUESTIONS HERE – go find another thread for that.
Excellent evaluation. I am in the technology space and led/lead Engineering, Production, Customer Service, Quality, Planning, etc. at Senior Staff levels. I think you grades are spot on.
 

GiddyUp

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I thought it would be interesting (and valuable) for professionals in industry to have a thought provoking thread discussing all aspects of the new Bronco release from the perspective of industry professionals – NOT an average customer. NO dumb questions about “can I get this option with that option” or general bashing allowed here. Maybe we'll learn something here that will carry over into our work lives.

So, product managers, engineers, assembly workers, mechanics, production planners, procurement and supply chain folks – take off your “customer” hat for this thread and put on your “business” hat to grade Ford from your professional perspective. What is your impression of how this new product development and release has gone, what does it mean for Ford in the future, and what would you have done differently or the same?

Here’s my take:

I am a Product Portfolio Manager within the off-highway hydraulics industry but hold an engineering degree as well. My career started in product engineering and also applications engineering. Currently it’s my job to be responsible for an overall portfolio of products to ensure that cost and profitability targets are hit, ensure that we are fulfilling the customer’s current and future needs, and ensure that we are managing the life cycle of our product well. My experience has given me a broad business perspective and I enjoy thinking about what Ford has, is, and will be going through. Here are some examples of how I would grade Ford and some opportunities for them to improve next time around.

New Bronco Overall Product fit vs. Customer Needs: A-

I think Ford did a great job of getting out in front of their customers and conducting REAL “Voice of Customer” activity and it shows. Everything from the way that they considered where to put grab handles for easy entry and exit, to considering the fact that if I want to take my doors off regularly, they need to be easy to manage and I need a place to put them. The special “Bronco” stamped fasteners are INGENIOUS. I hope they can patent that somehow. That is a fantastic way to have an active conversation with your customer base years after the product is purchased. Versus the competition it seems they’re taking some “extra steps” that could really differentiate them long term with the product overall. I did not give them higher than an A- because my current impression is that they are being sticklers about key option combinations that clearly customers want, but they are not prepared to offer (manual + sasquatch, air conditioned seats, etc. etc.). These are trade off decisions that any industry pro should recognize and be willing to wrestle with – so if Ford internally accepts that they must make these trade offs then it’s OK by me.

Variation Management: A

Operations and supply chain pros be happy. With a highly modular product like this new Bronco, it would be SUPER easy for Sales & Marketing to create an Initial Option Portfolio which is TEN TIMES bigger than what you see now (it’s already huge!). I think it’s remarkable that Ford has stuck to its guns with the limitation of certain features to certain options or packages. Ex. – sway bar disconnects ONLY on 2 versions. Apparently only ONE interior available for First Editions. Sasquatch with auto trannies ONLY. It would be very easy for product marketing to say “give use these options – I have lots of demand!”, but somewhere someone in OPS is saying, nah bro – too much for us to handle go fly a kite you got most of what you wanted. I can truly appreciate that. So, although strict variation management is never popular with customers, well done Ford you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Initial Release Event: C+

Call me crazy but I think Ford knew exactly what was going to happen with the technical glitches and site crashing on night of the release. They just chose not to prevent it from happening. This isn’t rocket science: high site traffic equals technical difficulties. I don’t believe anyone at Ford got fired over it. The reality is that limited IT resources are a serious problem with website support, virtual launch, and configurator implementations and this was no exception. However, there is still a lot of hurt customers over this and that’s why they get a C+. They didn’t get an F because honestly, they accomplished their goal of having an awesome presentation of the product and creating high demand. But they did not pass with flying colors because the vast majority of customers had issues.

Product Design and Approach: A+

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the initial reaction of “they knocked it out of the park” or “they nailed it” on this one. Heck – my wife and I are both super excited about the same vehicle and decided to put in a reservation! We have NEVER purchased new before. That’s telling you something. There’s something about the way the design works with the image, history, and engineering with the new Bronco that brings everything together in a way that every true “enthusiast” just gets and doesn’t question. I’m very impressed how they were able to incorporate the classic Bronco’s styling into the new version amongst other things.

Engineering: B

Time will tell the verdict on this grade more clearly, but it is very apparent that Ford Engineering is making overall good decisions on robustness of components which balances with the cost that a typical consumer is willing to pay. In addition to component selection, it is very clear that the validation processes they are going through are likely very sound. Especially true looking at the evidence of their test mules being thrashed all over the place. I have read / heard in an article somewhere that the solid front axle was never really a consideration for the new Bronco. Makes complete sense to me from an engineering perspective where the customer base is understood not to be the MOST hardcore rock crawler, but an adventure-seeking enthusiast who’s more likely to run moderate trails easily conquered with IFS, and more appreciative of excellent on-road manners and modern driving features. I did not rate higher than a B because of lack of long-term robustness evidence and a few pieces of evidence that make me question some choices… Two examples being the hypothetical concern over matching 35” tires with the manual transmission, and the apparent very low placement of alternators on 2.7L engines.

Public Relations: F

Ford’s public relations skills suck. This is the most concerning thing to me about this entire launch. I understand that this is a major product family launch in a “new era” of technological communications channels, but dammit if feels like they didn’t have a good plan. They should understand that in this era, literally every little piece of digital communication matters – they should have used that to inspire confidence with their customer base, but instead it seems that they’ve being continually decreasing their customers’ confidence. As I’ve seen stated many times, “they had us by the balls” on release night and they could have had us anyway they wanted to, but instead terribly written and executed tweets, difficult to find and sometimes conflicting technical information, and poor explanation of option dependence's have led the forum scene to run rampant with rumor mill gossip and bashing leading to customer reneging or reducing their purchase certainty. Do yourselves a favor and find yourselves someone who Tweets in complete sentences Ford. Another contributing factor to the bad PR score here is certainly the confusion and dissatisfaction around the dealer selection in the reservation process. It was very difficult to determine what was truth or lie as it relates to switching dealers and how to go about doing it. Finally, although I know it’s not necessary, Ford you needed to have a damn product roadshow. Inspire confidence in your customers by sending out prototype or production intent units to every state and let them do a tour of the dealers so that customers can look, touch, feel, and “buy in” to your product.

I’ll end on a positive note by saying I thought it was a fantastic idea to do a “live Q&A” via Twitter. I had low expectations and they were met, but I think this could be a valuable customer communications channel going forward and the customer base really did like the idea of getting some questions answered all at once.

Conclusion: Nice job overall!

Overall Ford I think you’re doing a great job. But there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ll stop my rambling now, but there’s a lot I have not covered so I can’t wait to see other’s present their discussion and views. As I think of more things I’ll share them too!

Reminder: NO STUIPID OPTION / RECOMMENDATION QUESTIONS HERE – go find another thread for that.
Enjoyed the read from a fellow Engineer ... well done!
 

Sough

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In college for my final business management project I did a full internal and external analysis on Ford and the automotive industry. With this project we had to do the analysis and then compare them to find out what are the best decisions Ford should be making to put their company in a better position moving forward. This was about 5 years ago. Some of the points I emphasized were Ford needed to start offering online presales of vehicles and innovate better smart technology within their cars. We had a lot of other points made but these 2 are what I see most in the Bronco launch and hopefully Ford continues to do in the future. The presale is a huge thing they can continue doing for all cars as it builds hype, and it's a good way to start offering discounts.
 

BE_

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car owner and driver's licence holder here (AKA car expert).

ford is stupid and does dumb stuff too often. B- across the board cause no optional snowplow.
 

Flourman

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I agree with all of your points. I think we need to take into perspective the microcosm of 6g. For anyone outside of this forum and a few others, I think they are doing a pretty good job. Not an “A” but definitely not an “F”.

Opening up questions on Twitter? That’s pretty cool but also pretty risky.
 

Big Boss

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I thought it would be interesting (and valuable) for professionals in industry to have a thought provoking thread discussing all aspects of the new Bronco release from the perspective of industry professionals – NOT an average customer. NO dumb questions about “can I get this option with that option” or general bashing allowed here. Maybe we'll learn something here that will carry over into our work lives.

So, product managers, engineers, assembly workers, mechanics, production planners, procurement and supply chain folks – take off your “customer” hat for this thread and put on your “business” hat to grade Ford from your professional perspective. What is your impression of how this new product development and release has gone, what does it mean for Ford in the future, and what would you have done differently or the same?

Here’s my take:

I am a Product Portfolio Manager within the off-highway hydraulics industry but hold an engineering degree as well. My career started in product engineering and also applications engineering. Currently it’s my job to be responsible for an overall portfolio of products to ensure that cost and profitability targets are hit, ensure that we are fulfilling the customer’s current and future needs, and ensure that we are managing the life cycle of our product well. My experience has given me a broad business perspective and I enjoy thinking about what Ford has, is, and will be going through. Here are some examples of how I would grade Ford and some opportunities for them to improve next time around.

New Bronco Overall Product fit vs. Customer Needs: A-

I think Ford did a great job of getting out in front of their customers and conducting REAL “Voice of Customer” activity and it shows. Everything from the way that they considered where to put grab handles for easy entry and exit, to considering the fact that if I want to take my doors off regularly, they need to be easy to manage and I need a place to put them. The special “Bronco” stamped fasteners are INGENIOUS. I hope they can patent that somehow. That is a fantastic way to have an active conversation with your customer base years after the product is purchased. Versus the competition it seems they’re taking some “extra steps” that could really differentiate them long term with the product overall. I did not give them higher than an A- because my current impression is that they are being sticklers about key option combinations that clearly customers want, but they are not prepared to offer (manual + sasquatch, air conditioned seats, etc. etc.). These are trade off decisions that any industry pro should recognize and be willing to wrestle with – so if Ford internally accepts that they must make these trade offs then it’s OK by me.

Variation Management: A

Operations and supply chain pros be happy. With a highly modular product like this new Bronco, it would be SUPER easy for Sales & Marketing to create an Initial Option Portfolio which is TEN TIMES bigger than what you see now (it’s already huge!). I think it’s remarkable that Ford has stuck to its guns with the limitation of certain features to certain options or packages. Ex. – sway bar disconnects ONLY on 2 versions. Apparently only ONE interior available for First Editions. Sasquatch with auto trannies ONLY. It would be very easy for product marketing to say “give use these options – I have lots of demand!”, but somewhere someone in OPS is saying, nah bro – too much for us to handle go fly a kite you got most of what you wanted. I can truly appreciate that. So, although strict variation management is never popular with customers, well done Ford you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Initial Release Event: C+

Call me crazy but I think Ford knew exactly what was going to happen with the technical glitches and site crashing on night of the release. They just chose not to prevent it from happening. This isn’t rocket science: high site traffic equals technical difficulties. I don’t believe anyone at Ford got fired over it. The reality is that limited IT resources are a serious problem with website support, virtual launch, and configurator implementations and this was no exception. However, there is still a lot of hurt customers over this and that’s why they get a C+. They didn’t get an F because honestly, they accomplished their goal of having an awesome presentation of the product and creating high demand. But they did not pass with flying colors because the vast majority of customers had issues.

Product Design and Approach: A+

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the initial reaction of “they knocked it out of the park” or “they nailed it” on this one. Heck – my wife and I are both super excited about the same vehicle and decided to put in a reservation! We have NEVER purchased new before. That’s telling you something. There’s something about the way the design works with the image, history, and engineering with the new Bronco that brings everything together in a way that every true “enthusiast” just gets and doesn’t question. I’m very impressed how they were able to incorporate the classic Bronco’s styling into the new version amongst other things.

Engineering: B

Time will tell the verdict on this grade more clearly, but it is very apparent that Ford Engineering is making overall good decisions on robustness of components which balances with the cost that a typical consumer is willing to pay. In addition to component selection, it is very clear that the validation processes they are going through are likely very sound. Especially true looking at the evidence of their test mules being thrashed all over the place. I have read / heard in an article somewhere that the solid front axle was never really a consideration for the new Bronco. Makes complete sense to me from an engineering perspective where the customer base is understood not to be the MOST hardcore rock crawler, but an adventure-seeking enthusiast who’s more likely to run moderate trails easily conquered with IFS, and more appreciative of excellent on-road manners and modern driving features. I did not rate higher than a B because of lack of long-term robustness evidence and a few pieces of evidence that make me question some choices… Two examples being the hypothetical concern over matching 35” tires with the manual transmission, and the apparent very low placement of alternators on 2.7L engines.

Public Relations: F

Ford’s public relations skills suck. This is the most concerning thing to me about this entire launch. I understand that this is a major product family launch in a “new era” of technological communications channels, but dammit if feels like they didn’t have a good plan. They should understand that in this era, literally every little piece of digital communication matters – they should have used that to inspire confidence with their customer base, but instead it seems that they’ve being continually decreasing their customers’ confidence. As I’ve seen stated many times, “they had us by the balls” on release night and they could have had us anyway they wanted to, but instead terribly written and executed tweets, difficult to find and sometimes conflicting technical information, and poor explanation of option dependence's have led the forum scene to run rampant with rumor mill gossip and bashing leading to customer reneging or reducing their purchase certainty. Do yourselves a favor and find yourselves someone who Tweets in complete sentences Ford. Another contributing factor to the bad PR score here is certainly the confusion and dissatisfaction around the dealer selection in the reservation process. It was very difficult to determine what was truth or lie as it relates to switching dealers and how to go about doing it. Finally, although I know it’s not necessary, Ford you needed to have a damn product roadshow. Inspire confidence in your customers by sending out prototype or production intent units to every state and let them do a tour of the dealers so that customers can look, touch, feel, and “buy in” to your product.

I’ll end on a positive note by saying I thought it was a fantastic idea to do a “live Q&A” via Twitter. I had low expectations and they were met, but I think this could be a valuable customer communications channel going forward and the customer base really did like the idea of getting some questions answered all at once.

Conclusion: Nice job overall!

Overall Ford I think you’re doing a great job. But there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ll stop my rambling now, but there’s a lot I have not covered so I can’t wait to see other’s present their discussion and views. As I think of more things I’ll share them too!

Reminder: NO STUIPID OPTION / RECOMMENDATION QUESTIONS HERE – go find another thread for that.
Small business owner here and have overseen the launch of a few new products for our company so I know the headaches that go with launching a new product. I would agree with most of your points. The PR grade IMO is spot on. I know they were planning on revealing earlier this year, and I am sure COVID really put a dent in their plans but I think they kind of just put a half assed plan together to reveal it. Example:

There is a lot of info floating around on social media from Ford employees (which I am grateful for) but some of said info is not relayed on the Ford website.

Example, as far as I know still no where on the website does it say that the Sasquatch requires the auto.


Other examples is to me other information that should have been out seems to have trickled out slowly such as dimensions and capacities and stuff like that.

I've been guilty of that in my career. We had a new product a few years ago that was going to blow the competition away, we showed it to customers and explained how ours was going to be superior in every way. In the end it was over engineered and overpriced and just a swing and miss.
 

rjkmoto

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Keep in mind on the PR front - a LOT of the outrage was all based on a forum post/speculated timeframe that then morphed and was internalized as “fact.”

Making BS up in an echo chamber, then getting upset when someone doesn’t follow through on the echo-chamber BS doesn’t make a PR blunder - it makes for a bunch of excited, enthusiastic grown-assed people, deciding what fact is, then throwing a tantrum when the actual reality is made known. 🤷‍♂️

As for the engineering and technical aspect - none of us has any clue because not one person outseide Ford has driven one. It’s, again, all speculation. Speculation that will probably turn into “fact” over time and then when the real thing is made available, a bunch of people will be outraged because it doesn’t meet the echo-chamber, agreed upon “fact.” 🤷‍♂️

Design - sure it looks awesome. We all have eyeballs. 😜

This is all just my dumb observation.... TIFWIW.

JK
 

ProudestMonkey

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I think the PR grade is a little too tough. I'm very happy to see a Ford employee interacting with the public and not hiding anonymously behind the @Ford Twitter account. Sometimes things can get misconstrued due to the informal nature of communication on Twitter, but getting some information is far better than none at all.

To Mike Levine, please continue doing what you've been doing: sharing as much as you can about the product and the launch phases. Learn from the reaction and adjust accordingly, but please don't stop!
 

Big Boss

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Keep in mind on the PR front - a LOT of the outrage was all based on a forum post/speculated timeframe that then morphed and was internalized as “fact.”

Making BS up in an echo chamber, then getting upset when someone doesn’t follow through on the echo-chamber BS doesn’t make a PR blunder - it makes for a bunch of excited, enthusiastic grown-assed people, deciding what fact is, then throwing a tantrum when the actual reality is made known. 🤷‍♂️

As for the engineering and technical aspect - none of us has any clue because not one person outseide Ford has driven one. It’s, again, all speculation. Speculation that will probably turn into “fact” over time and then when the real thing is made available, a bunch of people will be outraged because it doesn’t meet the echo-chamber, agreed upon “fact.” 🤷‍♂️

Design - sure it looks awesome. We all have eyeballs. 😜

This is all just my dumb observation.... TIFWIW.

JK
I think the PR grade is a little too tough. I'm very happy to see a Ford employee interacting with the public and not hiding anonymously behind the @Ford Twitter account. Sometimes things can get misconstrued due to the informal nature of communication on Twitter, but getting some information is far better than none at all.

To Mike Levine, please continue doing what you've been doing: sharing as much as you can about the product and the launch phases. Learn from the reaction and adjust accordingly, but please don't stop!
That is true, but also don't forget not everyone has social media though, just like everyone is not on the forums. Most people still probably go directly to the Ford website.

Some of the stuff that has come out on social media despite the fact its from some higher ups, is only on social media.
 

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