Ford is making a big bet on aluminum with its new 2015 F-150, and it's possible that the decision will hurt the company financially, at least in the short term. After earning a record $8.6 billion in 2013, the Blue Oval does not expect to set another record in 2014. According to Automotive News, that's "largely attributable to F Series," says Bob Shanks, Ford's Chief Financial Officer.
To retool for the new F-150, Ford will idle its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan for 11 weeks and the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri for 2 weeks. "3 of the 13 overall weeks occur during what normally is our summer shutdown timeframe," said Mike Levine, Ford Trucks Communication Manager, in an email to Autoblog. The extra 10 weeks will be preparing for the more aluminum-intensive construction for the trucks and will mean over 2 months of no F-150s being made. For comparison's sake, Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne just confirmed that the 200 plant in Sterling Heights, MI will be down for 30 days to retool for the new model, but obviously there are many more F-150 production variables than for the midsize sedan.
Levine notes that Ford is already running three shifts at both plants, and says the automaker has plans to ensure that there is adequate supply of the full-size pickups during the retooling process. The company does not want to suffer a shortage of the vehicle that accounted for 31-percent of its 2013 US sales and an even bigger percentage of its profits.
However, in its just-released 2013 financial report, Ford admits that the F-150 changeover will "result in lower wholesale volume than in 2013." It will also have to put discounts on remaining models to get them off of dealers' lots. According to the report, "Ford also expects higher manufacturing, engineering and spending-related costs to support the launches."