The wait is over. And truck fanatics are celebrating.
Over the past two weeks or so, Ford began delivering its much-anticipated 2021 F-150 pickups to dealerships as fast as they've come off the assembly line, and buyers are responding with open wallets.
"I sold our Ford Edge in July and went to the dealership and ... put our order in for a 2021 F-150," said Ben Brenneke, 33, an accountant from West Lafayette, Indiana. "There were a lot of delays and I opted to nix my order."
But then he had remorse.
"I was bugging the dealership constantly about availability," he said. Upon the arrival of a black F-150 Lariat, and after paying about $60,000, Brenneke drove it home on Dec. 3.
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He loved his old 2014 F-150 and looks forward to hauling big stuff again.
This latest model is the first complete redesign of the F-150 since the 2015 model year.
The F-150 and its F-Series siblings make up about one of every 16 vehicles sitting in a work or home driveway in the U.S., according to a Boston Consulting Group analysis in 2020. Ford sells an estimated 1 million F-Series trucks each year.
Eric Noble, president of The CarLab design consulting firm in Orange County, California, said in June this latest effort feels like polishing a diamond.
Some dealers report selling the latest model within hours of arrival.
Ed Hamilton, general sales manager at Capitol City Ford in Indianapolis, said Brenneke took home one of just four pickups delivered within the past week or so, and three deposits have been placed on special orders for a retired farmer, a business owner and a factory worker.
"When the semi pulled in carrying the F-150s, it was a very exciting moment," Hamilton said. "Everyone rushed out to see the new truck and all the new changes with the body style and the interior. Most all of the salesmen and half the service department watched it being unloaded. They were like kids at Christmas waiting for a new toy.”
Meanwhile, John Huselton, general manager of Shults Ford in Wexford, Pennsylvania, has ordered 300 of the 2021 F-150s for his three dealerships and has eight in stock.
"Because of the increased sales after the pandemic, the 2020 (F-150) inventory is depleted," he said. "However, people want the 2021 (F-150) because of the fresh look and the technology. People are willing to pay more for the new style. You have a bottle opener on the tailgate with every 2021 F-150. Stuff like that makes it sellable and fun. It's not just transportation. It's cool."
The F-150, redesigned and tricked out with new technology, hasn't lost its mojo.
"People trade in their Mercedes and Lexus to buy an F-150 around here," Huselton said.
Meanwhile, a dozen buyers await a call from Shults Ford saying their truck is ready.
The F-Series, a family of trucks that includes the F-150, has been America's bestselling vehicle for nearly four decades.
“Customer sold orders are up over 210% from a year ago November, and dealer orders for stock are more than double the current production schedule,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing and sales, in a news release. “It’s apparent that this F-150 is something that our customers both want and need.”
Rodney Boyer, 64, a retired life flight helicopter pilot from Boyers, Pennsylvania, traded his 2015 truck for latest model.
"I've owned 'em all – Ford, GMC, Dodge," he said. "I've always kinda went with what style I liked at the time. The 2015 F-150 was probably the nicest riding truck I've ever owned by far. So when it came time to look for a new truck, well, this is like a steak in a hamburger world."
Boyer, who paid $57,000 for all the bells and whistles except leather interior, which he didn't want, plans to use it to haul a trailer carrying his 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle and a 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP to car shows in Las Vegas and Colorado.
He can't believe the size of the dashboard screen, "about the size of a laptop," which makes information easy to read. "The dash, the instrument panel, the way gauges are set up – you can do anything you want with it."
Industry analysts say it matters little that Ford started delivering in late November, a delay caused by a two-month shutdown from March to May at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
''These past nine months have been so disruptive," said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, a car listing and data site. "There isn't a normal expectation anymore. Whether it's toilet paper or trucks, if it's available and you want it, you're happy. Any semblance of when something should’ve arrived is out the window for many consumers."
New and used vehicles have been harder to acquire, generally speaking.
"I think Ford is positioned to do well with the F-150 and the current arrival time," Brauer said. "No matter when it would've arrived, it would’ve been pretty readily embraced. Would’ve been great if they were out sooner because they could’ve sold more."
Trucks have had an "outsized level of demand since COVID-19 began," he noted. "When people are nervous, they tend to want things that are more flexible, rugged, durable. Trucks have benefited from that."
Ford has no totals to report yet.
The 2021 F-150 price ranges from about $31,000 to $76,000. In 2020, buyers paid an average of $51,000 for F-Series.
Kelley Blue Book car buyers' guide has named the Ford F-150 a Best Buy award winner seven years in a row "because it continues to advance the full-size truck segment." The recognition is based on price, depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel, fees and taxes for new vehicles plus consumer reviews.
Trucks generate massive revenue for automakers. Ram and Chevy Silverado constantly battle for the second place slot.
The F-150 is built by UAW members at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri.
Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter @phoebesaid.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2021 Ford F-150 pickup arrives at dealerships: Demand exceeds supply