Bad News for Ford: Carolina Twister Makes Direct Hit on Automaker's Supply Chain
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: https://t.co/aBUM1bw0EB 13Apr2020 pic.twitter.com/UzLrvBKFwu
— 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.
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