I've learned over the years that unless you evidence otherwise to never attribute to malice that which may be explained by incompetence. It's certainly possible that Ford deleted parts from cars without informing potential customers to make more money. It's also possible Ford simply can't get these parts and believes people would rather buy cars without these parts installed than not at all.I can only go by my own experiences. The fact that Ford has been apparently been so "sneaky" with this panel speaks volumes to me.
Compared to other manufacturers, Ford appears to have mishandled the supply chain disruption. For example, it took a $1 billion loss to prompt corporate leadership to rethink its supply strategies. Stupidity is not underhanded, although it can certainly appear that way sometimes.