Ford Suspending F-Series Production After Supplier Fire, Other Automakers Affected

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ford suspending f series production after supplier fire other automakers affected

As we told you yesterday, Ford announced it will temporarily halt production of the F-150 and Super Duty after a fire at Meridian Magnesium Products of America knocked out a key supplier. While the Blue Oval isn’t the only automaker affected by the supply shortage, as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz also report the likelihood of production interruptions, Ford has the most to lose.

Taking the company’s most profitable vehicle out of the mix for a few weeks is a big deal. During a bad month, Ford might sell around 50,000 F-Series trucks in the United States. But a good month can see around 90,000 deliveries, so an unplanned idle probably has the automaker tugging at its collar a little. Fortunately, Ford currently has a 84-day supply of F-series pickups. That doesn’t mean it won’t feel the pinch if the wait on parts takes longer than expected.

The factory shutdown affects F-150 production at the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant, which Ford said will last until at least May 14th. Super Duty lines at Kentucky Truck and Ohio Assembly have also shut down. Ford’s Dearborn Plant is expected to go down temporarily in the near future.

So, how far have the ripples spread?

According to Bloomberg, the supplier issue could cost the automaker as many as 15,000 F-150s per week. That’s a lot of money. As Ford’s breadwinner, the F-Series is responsible for roughly $40 billion in annual revenue. “The F-Series platform is critically important to Ford,” said Emmanuel Rosner, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities LLC. “We estimate it generates annual profits of at least $12 billion for the company, accounting for much more than the totality of Ford’s global [profits].”

So long as the factory shutdowns don’t last too long, Ford should be okay. Line workers will have to put in some overtime once the lights come back on, but no one’s expecting the trucks to suddenly vanish from dealer lots this summer. However, as there are not an overabundance of suppliers for magnesium parts, automakers could be in for a legitimate wait.

Hoping for a swift solution, Meridian Magnesium claims it is working as quickly as possible to get equipment to its plants in Canada and the United Kingdom. Its Eaton Rapids facility suffered a critical level of damage from the fire. While not totally destroyed, a large portion of the main building has been rendered unusable. Employees were told by a company official last week they should expect layoffs, but a portion of the facility is expected to remain open (plants 4 and 5 were unaffected by the fire). “It is our intention to return to normal operations as quickly as possible,” George Asher, Meridian Magnesium’s plant manager, told his staff. At this point, no one has a sound estimate for how long that may take.

“This is an extremely fluid situation,” said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker. “We are working hard to get replacement parts. We’re working closely with the supplier to manage the situation and determine next steps.”

The supply shortage is far reaching, affecting multiple automakers. Automotive News reported that Mercedes-Benz will have to rejigger production at its plant in Vance, Alabama, where it currently builds the C-Class, GLE, and GLS. The automaker said it “cancelled production shifts in certain areas and adjusted production hours for our team members this week. We continue to assess the situation and are working with Meridian to restore normal production levels.”

General Motors reported it would temporarily halt production of its Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana at its Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri on Wednesday.

BMW claims parts shortages would hinder assembly of the X5, built in South Carolina. But it noted its currently supply has kept operations running for the time being.

As for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the company said production of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in Windsor, Ontario, will also be affected by the fire. The automaker reports it will begin “adjusting production schedules as needed to minimize plant downtime,” promising to make up any lost production.

[Image: Ford]

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3 of 10 comments
  • Maxb49 Maxb49 on May 09, 2018

    Now imagine that this fire happened after Ford ceased car production. Fire Hackett now.

  • IHateCars IHateCars on May 10, 2018

    I'm wondering how EBFlex and akear will spin this as being Ford's fault....

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on May 10, 2018

      That's easy - with sole source supplier using just in time manufacturing, a company needs to keep stock, or enough reserve in the form of continuous shipments in transit. There are probably a bunch of other slams on Ford that could be used. It's just like the Lear strike affecting Chrysler - maybe they should have kept a small contract with Johnson Controls, just in case. Of course, that doesn't square with lean manufacturing, and events like this are bound to result in disruptions. The only remedy is what has been suggested, allocate sales and prices based on supply and demand. I expect the automakers to do just that with their customers, the dealers, who will do to their customers what was done to them.

  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?