By on April 20, 2020


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.

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]

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21 Comments on “Bad News for Ford: Carolina Twister Makes Direct Hit on Automaker’s Supply Chain...”

  • avatar

    Tornadoes suck. I am anti-tornado. Am considering beginning a formal campaign against them.

  • avatar

    Here’s to hoping Mother Nature smiles kindly upon the world this year, because dealing with the normal run of fires, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, drought, etc. will just be *extra* delightful.

    “Hurricane Shelter”, “Fire Evacuation Center”, etc. and “Social Distancing” are not compatible concepts.

  • avatar

    “though it wasn’t known which manufacturers sourced components from the plant.”

    probably most of them, but let’s focus doom and gloom on only one in particular.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Ford said the equipment it owns inside the hard-hit facility was not ‘materially damaged\'”

    That’s a curiously specific statement. Maybe B-W owns all the test equipment and other supporting infrastructure, which still means they can’t produce product.

    I feel bad for the workers who certainly were hoping to return soon.

    Maybe they can set up in a tent.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone Time for a quick re-tool.

  • avatar

    This is probably about the best possible time for there to be a disaster like this.

    It isn’t like Ford needs to produce a lot of vehicles at the moment.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

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