Ford Calls Out Suppliers for Leaks

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
ford calls out suppliers for leaks

The good ship Ford has been quite leaky lately. And the automaker is pinning the blame on its suppliers.

Images of the Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Maverick compact pickup have all leaked before those vehicles were introduced (the Maverick, of course, has not yet been unveiled, while the other two have). These images have hit forums — and we’ve sourced those forums for some of our own reporting.

So, naturally, Ford put out a memo, and it was shared with Automotive News. It’s unclear who shared it with the industry-centric publication.

“We cannot underscore enough the negative impact of these unfortunate actions on our collective business results, and we ask for your support to personally follow the confidentiality guidelines inherent in Ford’s Global Terms & Conditions,” Ford said in the memo. It was signed by Jonathan Jennings, the company’s vice president for global commodity purchasing and supplier technical assistance. “Ford has a zero-tolerance policy for leaks emanating from our own team members, and we need all supplier personnel to adopt a similar approach regarding unauthorized disclosures of Ford confidential information.”

Further, Ford set out to make it clear to suppliers that any advantages Ford may have over the competition could be “severely diminished or eliminated altogether through malicious or careless disclosure of confidential information.”

Ford doesn’t allow photos or video of prototypes before official launch. Regardless of whether the vehicle is camouflaged or not, or otherwise covered.

That’s common in the industry — yours truly has had stickers placed over his cell phone’s camera at various visits to automaker properties. Of course, Ford’s rules don’t stop spy photographers, random citizens, and journalists out and about town from trying to snap shots of vehicles testing on public roads. Agreements to not sneak pics don’t apply in the wild.

It’s worth noting, of course, that some of these leaks appeared to come from within plants and other production facilities.

Subcontractors are supposed to abide by Ford’s rules, and Ford apparently singled out Tier 1 suppliers. The company reminded them that they have a “responsibility to have a robust leak prevention plan. Because the damage to our organizations can be significant, Ford will treat confirmed supplier security breaches with heightened scrutiny. Suppliers could face business repercussions and even recovery actions for damages tied to leaks caused or enabled by suppliers.”

AN reached out to Ford and an unnamed spokesperson said the company was: “reinforcing to suppliers and partners, as we have to our own employees, the importance of following strict policies and protocols to protect confidential information.”

Of course, leaks will never be fully stopped. Our experience in 2019 is a reminder of that.

[Image: Ford]

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6 of 11 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 20, 2021

    "Show us how gravely negative a few photos leaking is to your business" For once, I agree with you..... OMG...Me agreeing with EBflex and Biden as president...the world must be coming to an end. LOL

    • See 3 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 22, 2021

      @EBFlex You seem to take it seriously until you get called out.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jan 21, 2021

    “Ford has a zero-tolerance policy for leaks emanating from our own team members, and we need all supplier personnel to adopt a similar approach regarding unauthorized disclosures of Ford confidential information.” Why do Ford's inner workings sometimes remind me of Scientology?

  • YellowDuck Thank goodness neither one had their feet up on the dash....
  • Zerofoo I learned a long time ago to never buy a heavily modified vehicle. Far too many people lack the necessary mechanical engineering skills to know when they've screwed something up.
  • Zerofoo I was part of this industry during my college years. We built many, many cars for "street pharmacists" that sounded like this.Excessive car audio systems are kind of like 800 HP engines. Completely unnecessary, but a hell of a lot of fun.
  • DedBull In it to win it!
  • Wolfwagen IIRC I remember reading somewhere that the Porsche Cayenne was supposed to have a small gasoline-powered block heater. There was a loop in the cooling system that ran to the heater and when the temperature got to a certain point (0°C)the vehicle's control unit would activate the heater. I dont know if this was a concept or if it ever made it into production.
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