Bad News for Ford: Carolina Twister Makes Direct Hit on Automaker's Supply Chain

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

An outbreak of tornadoes through the Gulf states and into the Southeast early last week saw one twister shatter a sprawling BorgWarner assembly plant. Known for building all-important transfer cases for four-and all-wheel drive vehicles, the Seneca, SC facility lay in near-ruins following the direct hit, though it wasn’t known which manufacturers sourced components from the plant.

Well, it turns out one recipient of Seneca-built parts is Ford — and it uses a lot of them.

As reported by the Associated Press (via the Detroit Free Press), a regulatory filing from Friday shows Ford installs parts from the tornado-trashed plant in a variety of big-ticket vehicles. Among them, the country’s best-selling vehicle, the F-150, as well as the Explorer, Expedition, and Transit. The Lincoln brand sees BorgWarner transfer cases installed in Aviators and Navigators.

In other words, Ford’s biggest profit generators.

For a company that attempted to get its pickup plants back up and running early amid the continent-wide coronavirus shutdown (a plan it eventually backed off from), last week’s fluke of nature added a new headache.

Aerial footage from @wyffnews4 shows damage to Senaca, SC region after overnight tornado struck around 330am including major damage to @BorgWarner plant, multiple homes damaged, some destroyed, trees down: 13Apr2020

— Chris (@TriggerPsychoma) April 13, 2020

In the filing, Ford said the equipment it owns inside the hard-hit facility was not “materially damaged,” though the same can’t be said about the building around it. Besides tearing the roof and exterior walls off much of the facility, the early morning tornado killed one contract employee. The toll would surely have been higher had the twister struck during normal, non-pandemic times.

Neither Ford nor BorgWarner can say when the plant’s crucial components might make it back into production, be it at the existing facility or somewhere else. That’s a huge question mark for Ford, what with automakers now planning for a return to production across the U.S. While Ford has resisted listing a return date, many of its rivals have pegged anywhere between May 4th and the middle of the month for a cautious return to car-making.

“We are working closely with the supplier to manage the situation and to determine next steps,” the automaker said in a statement.

[Image: Ford]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Apr 20, 2020

    When I saw the news about a Borg-Warner plant taking a hit, I wondered what they made there. Well, now we know. Yikes.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 20, 2020

    Ford involved in a quick re-tool? We know how that worked out for the 202 Explorer and MKExplorer. Yet another item that will be absent of any level of quality.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Another Hyunkia'sis? 🙈
  • SCE to AUX "Hyundai told us that perhaps he or she is a performance enthusiast who is EV hesitant."I'm not so sure. If you're 'EV hesitant', you're not going to jump into a $66k performance car for your first EV experience, especially with its compromised range. Unless this car is purchased as a weekend toy, which perhaps Hyundai is describing.Quite the opposite, I think this car is for a 2nd-time EV buyer (like me*) who understands what they're getting into. Even the Model 3 Performance is a less overt track star.*But since I have no interest in owning a performance car, this one wouldn't be for me. A heavily-discounted standard Ioniq 5 (or 6) would be fine.Tim - When you say the car is longer and wider, is that achieved with cladding changes, or metal (like the Raptor)?
  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?
  • Analoggrotto Colorado baby!
  • Rob Woytuck Weight is also a factor for ferries which for instance in British Columbia, Canada are part of the highway system.