8,000 Ford Mustangs get temporary steering wheels while idled by labor strike

They were parked pending shipments of the correct wheels

A worker strike at a supplier in Mexico forced Ford to temporarily idle thousands of plant workers and park thousands of Mustangs and Explorers fitted with temporary steering wheels while they await the correct parts.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the supply issue led to a backlog of around 8,000 parked Mustangs while Ford waited for the correct steering wheels to ship. In the meantime, Ford sent about 3,200 workers home for two weeks of unplanned down time from its Flat Rock Assembly Plant, south of Detroit, where it builds the Mustang. That extended planned down time during the week of Jan. 21 to the following two weeks; Ford says it adjusted by running two shifts at the plant through April 15. Shipments of the correct steering wheels have resumed, and production at Flat Rock resumed on Feb. 11, Ford confirmed. The Explorer, which is built at the Chicago Assembly Plant, was also affected by the issue, but Ford says there was no disruption to production.

"Earlier this year, Flat Rock Assembly Plant took several weeks of down time due to a parts shortage," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. "In order to ensure we have enough Mustangs to match customer demand, we extended the two-shift operation for two weeks. The plant will now go to a one-shift operation after April 15."

The issue highlights the complex and interconnected nature of the global automotive supply chain, and the stoppage is likely to be an issue in the upcoming UAW contract talks in Detroit later this year. The Detroit Bureau reported recently that more than 30,000 Mexican workers have taken part in the recent strikes in and around Matamoros, Mexico, near Brownsville, Texas, in what's believed to be the largest labor strike in North America in decades. Suppliers including Delphi, Dura and Key Safety Systems own plants in the region.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in December, has promised to improve the lot of working people in the country and has promised to raise the minimum wage, including a doubling of it in the northern border area.

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