Fire At Downstate Ford Plant Could Cause F-150 Shortage


Ford Motor faces a complete production shutdown of its profit-driving F-150 pickups for an unknown period of time. Ford should recoup sales later this year, unless the shutdowns are prolonged.

Production of the Super Duty at Ford's Kentucky truck plant was halted on Wednesday.

Ford Motor working with a key supplier to shift some parts production from MI to Ontario, Canada, after a fire and subsequent parts shortages forced the automaker to halt manufacturing of its highly profitable full-size pickups, according to sources familiar with the companies' plans.

However the F-150 has been the best selling U.S. vehicle by any manufacturer for more than 40 years.

The crisis began last Wednesday when an explosion and fire knocked out production at a plant run by Meridian Lightweight Technologies in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, about 80 miles from Detroit.

Ford temporarily laid off workers at its truck plant in Kansas City earlier this week and Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president of Global Operations, said early Wednesday that the automaker faced a "fluid situation" as it struggled to find an alternative source for the magnesium radiator supports used in its F-150 line-up.

The broader F-Series line-up, including Super Duty models, is Ford's most profitable vehicle, analysts estimating the company makes $10,000 or more on all but base models.

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All told, 7,600 workers at the two plants will be directly impacted, 4,000 of them in Dearborn, 3,600 in Kansas City. A Ford spokeswoman said on Wednesday the automaker is working closely with the supplier to get production restarted. That includes some larger trucks than the F-150, although the F-150 makes up the overwhelming majority of those sales.

"We do expect Ford will incur higher production costs during this shutdown period and potentially in the period immediately following the shutdown to the degree Ford elects to accelerate production to make up for this shortfall", Albertine wrote Tuesday in a note to investors.

The automaker now has 84 days' supply of its F-Series vehicles. It said the plant will continue building the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. "They can add production, add shifts", Krebs said.

The fire destroyed this plant in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. "Clean up and repairs are progressing", the statement said.

A fire at a small auto parts-maker's plant is cutting off supply of key components and disrupting production of crucial Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG models.

Meridian, owned by Chinese supplier Wanfeng Auto Holding Group, also provides parts to Toyota Motor Corp and Tesla Inc among others, according to the websites of Meridian and Wanfeng.

Ford has enough of the die-cast magnesium parts on the shelf to keep production running at Dearborn through Thursday of this week, according to a letter from the plant's union chief received by employees. Automakers use magnesium parts to cut weight in vehicles, and improve fuel economy.