Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Ford halts F-150 production

Meridian fire causes parts shortages in US Ford F-150 production could be shut down — but that probably won't wreck 2018 sales
Jodi Jackson | 11 May, 2018, 04:31

It is Ford's only supplier of this product in the USA, and without it, the truck's production is unable to continue.

So far production of the Expedition, Navigator and MKT are not impacted by the parts shortage.

Nearly 7,600 workers are temporary laid off due to the fire.

But General Motors has been forced to stop producing full-size vans at a factory in Missouri, and production of Fiat Chrysler's Pacifica minivan has been curtailed in Windsor, Ontario.

According to a letter shared with Dearborn Truck workers Wednesday afternoon, officials expect the plant to resume production on May 14, although the letter cautioned that "this situation and circumstances can change".

Ford is resigned but hopeful.

The production stoppage comes after an explosion and fire at Meridian Magnesium Products of America's factory in Easton Rapids, Mich., cut off the supply of components used in the F-150's instrument panel. Ford F-150 is iconic product and extremely popular one.

The auto maker is also pausing production of the Ford F-Series Super Duty, a larger version of the pickup truck, at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, but plans to continue production of the truck at another plant in Ohio.

Ford has temporarily laid off 3,600 workers and shut down half the production of the company's best-selling vehicle, the F-150 pickup truck, following a fire at a supplier facility.

The precarious situation "demonstrates the riskier side of Ford's strategy to put all its eggs in the trucks and SUVs basket", said Ivan Drury, a senior analyst with the auto website Edmunds.

"We're confident that any impacts will be short term", said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford global operations, in a media call late Wednesday.

The F-150, America's top-selling vehicle, is built only at the two sites.

Ford said it is working with its supply base to offset the impact, but it acknowledges the shortage of die-cast components is a big blow.

The step was the result of a fire at a parts supplier in small town MI. "There's a lot of different engines, different cabs, different cargo beds", she said.

No one knows for sure how long it will take to restart the Meridian Magnesium plant.

A message was left Thursday for officials at Meridian.

The supplier, Meridian Magnesium Products, did not confirm timelines. They will get most of but not all of their pay during the temporary layoff.

"They're going to get that tooling there and try to get things running as quickly as possible", said D'Angelo. "This weekend may be a different story", he said.

FCA's Chrysler Pacifica and GM's GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express full-size vans have felt the production squeeze.

The suspension will come at the end of the second shift. X3 and X4 production won't be affected.

The cause of the fire at the Meridian plant isn't known.

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