Ford F-Series production halted amid parts shortage

It follows a fire last week at a factory that supplies instrument panels

Ford Motor Co. says it will halt production of its top-selling F-150 and Super Duty pickup trucks at several of its U.S. plants where they are built following a fire at a plant in Michigan that produces instrument panels.

Ford said the truck side of its Kansas City (Mo.) Assembly Plant has been suspended because of the parts shortage, meaning about 3,600 workers are idled with no date set for reopening it, the Detroit Free Press reported. And Ford said it is shutting down the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan at the end of the afternoon shift Wednesday. That plant employs 4,000 workers.

In addition, F-Series Super Duty production is suspended at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. Ford said it expects to continue Super Duty production at its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. The Freep said no workers had been sent home at either plant because both facilities build other vehicles.

"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, executive vice president and 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."

It's believed that Ford has enough stock to weather the stoppage, with an 84-day supply of F-Series pickups at the end of April, Automotive News reports, so a production stoppage would have to last for many weeks to eat away at that inventory surplus. The automaker is working hard to find a source of replacement parts, and parts supplier Meridian Magnesium is moving dies to other facilities, including one in Ontario, Canada.

The F-Series pickups are the best-selling vehicle in the United States and generate most of Ford's profits. Ford has sold 287,295 of them though April, according to, up 4 percent over the same period in 2017.

The fire, which also triggered several explosions, took place May 2 at Meridian Magnesium Products of America's plant in Eaton Rapids, Mich., near Lansing, injuring two workers. The plant employs more than 400 workers and is the city's largest employer. Parts of the 208,000 square-foot building remain open, but layoffs are believed to be possible. A cause is still unknown.

It's also disrupted production at several other North American automotive plants. One is Fiat-Chrysler's plant in Windsor, Ontario, that produces the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and the Dodge Grand Caravan. An FCA spokeswoman tells the Freep the company "is adjusting production schedules as needed to minimize plant downtime, but will make up any lost production."

Automotive News also reports that Mercedes-Benz has canceled production shifts in certain areas of its plant in Vance, Ala., in light of a shortage of cockpit components, while BMW said production of its X5 crossover was briefly affected.

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