Both Ford and GM, the primary producers of chassis for our industry, will be producing fewer chassis for ambulance production in calendar year 2014.
The slowdown has already started at Ford, where a V-10 engine commodity problem has curtailed the availability of Econoline 6.8L vans and cutaways so far this year. Many ambulance manufacturers are reporting they are virtually out of both models, and that new chassis will be scarce for the foreseeable future.
The shortage will escalate in June, when Ford cutaway (Type III) production is shut down for 6 weeks due to a plant modification. In addition, the venerable Econoline van, long the workhorse of our industry, will be completely discontinued at that same time. It will be replaced by the new Ford Transit as part of Ford’s global plan.
Industry sources state that the Transit startup in a new Ford plant will be slower than planned, and that the gas powered Transit vans with the required ambulance package are not expected to be available until early calendar 2015. Diesel powered Transit vans may be available slightly earlier.
GM is also making some moves that will affect the supply of their ambulance chassis in 2014. A startup of production for a new mid-size pickup in the same GM plant that produces the G series vans and cutaways will reduce the production of those models by approximately 50% in the second half of calendar 2014. GM does not have any significant changes in their ambulance chassis models scheduled in the short term.
Supplies of Ford F cab/chassis, Sprinter, International, Freightliner and Ram appear to be normal, and no shortage is anticipated in those models at this time.