Ford Motor Company was forced to halt production of its popular F-150 truck at plants in Dearborn MI and Kansas City MO on Wednesday after a fire last week at a parts supplier in Michigan.
The company also suspended production of the F-Series Super Duty, a larger version of the F-150, at its truck plant in Louisville KY, but expected to continue making the vehicle at its Ohio plant in Avon Lake.
The F-Series pickups were the top selling vehicles in the US last year, with 896,764 sold.
The F-150 is produced only at the Dearborn and Kansas City plants.
“This is a fluid situation, but we are working closely with our supplier partners to do everything we can to limit the impact on our production,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations.
“It’s a full team effort and we’re confident that any impacts will be short term. The good news is we have strong inventories of our best-selling F-Series pickups and other vehicles, and customers won’t have a problem finding the model they want.”
The fire, which led to a series of explosions, occurred May 2 at Meridian's Magnesium Products of America facility in Eaton Rapids MI, where multiple die-cast magnesium components for the F-150 are produced.
“This factory had an explosion, and because of the heat, nobody could go in there until the fire marshal cleared it, so our people put a tent up and stayed all night to be there the moment they could go in with big lifts to pull tooling out … (and move) these tools to other locations to get production up and going,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO.
Ford said it’s working to mitigate US production losses and that its three-month supply of F-Series trucks in dealers’ inventories should offset shortages in the near term, but if the shutdown lasts several weeks, which reportedly could be the case, specific versions of the F-150 would become scarce.
The company has not said when the two plants will resume production.
Ford sold 73,104 F-150s in April and 287,295 F-Series trucks in the US in the first four months of the year, up 4 percent from last year. It built 29,572 trucks in Kansas City and 31,482 in Dearborn last month.
“Thanks to the work that we’re doing with suppliers, our manufacturing engineering teams, as well as the people in our plants, we expect any impacts to be short-term,” said Robert Shanks, Ford’s CFO.