By on August 6, 2021

As if Ford didn’t have enough headaches in terms of pickup truck supply, the derailment of a train carrying a load of the things has thrown the automaker even further off track. According to local media, a freight train ran into trouble while hauling the things through Missouri, creating a stack of metal that Blue Oval suits certainly could do without seeing right now.

Here’s the good news: no injuries or environmental damage was reported, save for the new pair of pants that was surely required for the train’s operator.

The midday incident occurred earlier this week when nearly four dozen train cars jumped the tracks and caused quite the mess about 100 miles from St. Louis. Aerial photos from the scene show automotive carriers piled up as if a child has suddenly abandoned their playtime in a huff, with metal and debris scattered across the countryside. Close examination of the pics shows F-150 trucks in various states of undress, some hanging out of the now-open carriers like a dog’s tongue on a hot day.

Also among the wreckage were some Transit cargo vans, though it is surely the loss of F-Series pickup trucks that will keep Ford officials up at night given the nation’s inventory shortages of their cash cow. The company has an assembly plant in Claycomo, more commonly known as the Kansas City Assembly Plant; it is likely the vehicles were being transported from that location.

The train company, Norfolk Southern, is apparently investigating the cause of this derailment which caused a stoppage of train traffic for more than 24 hours. These types of wrecks can be tricky to scrutinize, given the sheer amount of material present over a wide area. In the moment, however, the mess was cleaned up by a recovery crew and repairs were made to the track. Missouri State Highway Patrol is reported to have not immediately found a cause for the derailment.

Ford has been taking it on the chin in terms of supply when it comes to its best-seller, with the ongoing microchip and semiconductor shortage wreaking havoc in assembly plants across the country. Year-to-date recorded sales are down 5.5 percent for F-Series, totaling just over 414,000 units. Last month alone, deliveries dove by 26.6 percent compared to July 2020 to 52,314. Those numbers are surely causing gnashing of teeth in certain corner offices of the Glass House, though it must be noted that if the bottleneck is addressed in the second half of this year, we’ll certainly be seeing boasts of ‘best month ever’ as a result of pent up demand.

The entire Ford brand is about flat for this year, down 0.7% to just over a million units.

[Image: Ford]

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24 Comments on “Off the Rails: Train Crash Damages New Ford F-150 Pickups...”

  • avatar

    Not sure how insurance works for delivery wrecks but I wonder if a crew will be dispatched to harvest the chips from the destroyed vehicles? I know with shipping issues the vehicles are usually destroyed but wouldn’t be surprised if in this environment they throw them into other waiting vehicles and scrap the rest?

    • 0 avatar

      liability issues. They wont be able to reuse anything from them as sad as it is.

      • 0 avatar

        Just speculation, but they weren’t sold yet, so the parts would still be new technically. Don’t know for sure. If the vehicles had been titled and they were salvaged, it would be a different story.

        • 0 avatar
          PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

          If the vehicle is in a train accident, everything is junked. Nothing is available for sale, although sometimes it can be donated.

          • 0 avatar

            This happened with Mazdas in transit…ship had some kind of problem and was listing badly. Everything was destroyed – holes drilled in tires…and liability was noted as to why. Still handled the wrong way. They should have stripped the vins off of every one and donated the usable units to trade schools. At least there would be some reuse instead of all waste.

          • 0 avatar

            Common arrangement is to donate the damaged vehicles (or portions thereof) to a vocational school with the agreement that they will never be licensed for on-road use. (So the students get to tear down/reassemble a brand-new Ford engine, but can’t install it in their daily driver.)

            [The way it was explained to me: Imagine you’re an attorney defending the OEM in a suit involving a fatality 5 years down the road. Is there any way to prove that the structural damage from the train wreck (since “repaired” [those air quotes are courtesy of plaintiff’s counsel]) didn’t carry over in some way and contribute to the fatality? Probably not. So we scrap it and move on.]

          • 0 avatar

            @tool guy, yes sometimes cars like this get donated to various vocational schools. My local HS got a bunch of cars from the community college that was a Ford ASSET school. I’m not sure what the story was on those cars but they were not wrecks. They were out of date by that point for the ASSET program. They ended up with a couple of 80’s Escort engines on stands to run them, cutaway axles and manual transmission, a Mustang convertible, Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria all from the mid-late 90’s. Things like the leather seats, door panels and a bunch of other things had been spray painted with Ford ASSET, not for sale.

            The teacher had the students completely take apart the Crown Vic, paint the parts and put them on the shelf. That way he could had a kid something like a starter and tell them to put the blue one in. Then the parts removed got painted gold, for the next student.

            As far as damage in transit back when I was in HS the local Chevy dealer had a Corvette fall when being unloaded from the truck and it ended up at our school.

    • 0 avatar

      Since the dealers will already be installing chips in the trucks for them, surely there’s at least one Ford exec that will suggest sending these trucks on the dealers anyway, so that they can also harvest the chips themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Damaged or fixed? They are Fords so there is a likelihood that it actually made them better

  • avatar

    (hand raised)
    Can I ask a question?

    A curious story writer would have found out/asked- HOW MANY VEHICLES PER TRAIN CAR????
    Jeez. I m surrounded by children

    • 0 avatar

      I was in the railroading business for years and spent about two of that in the automotive end of the business. Trucks and SUV’s are shipped on bi-Level cars which amount to ten vehicles per railcar (five per deck). Passenger cars, back when they were actually produced, shipped in tri-Level cars or fifteen per railcar.

      Back in ’88 we ran a few bi-level cars under a low bridge in Baltimore and converted a bunch of Jeep Cherokees into convertibles. The auto manufacturers used to scrap any vehicle involved in a derailment but I admit that I don’t know if that is still the case. Interesting observation about the chip shortage.

      Derailments, big ones like this, don’t happen often but when they do, it makes a mess. Not only are the vehicles destroyed but so are the rail cars and the track structure.

      Generally, the railroad is responsible, they are self-insured and pay from their freight-loss account. They go into reinsurance markets, however, to cover catastrophic losses like the Lac Megantic, Quebec wreck in June of 2013. That one put the railroad, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic, into bankruptcy.

  • avatar

    Someone matching the description of EBflex seen fleeing the scene minutes before the crash….

  • avatar

    I guess this means that the next Knight Rider series will be using a F-150 pickup (again) instead of a Trans Am T-Top?

  • avatar

    Let’s build high speed passenger trains, they said.. we already have the tracks, they said.. it’ll be great, they said..

  • avatar

    This song is dedicated to the hard-working Ford Motor Company employees working on F-Series:

    [Because I know what it’s like to have life kicking you in the teeth, watching the rest of the company crumble around you, and looking up and realizing that the ‘team’ is you.]

  • avatar

    Ouch. That must have made one hell of a racket!

  • avatar

    Interesting that the F-150s appeared to be in Transit somewhere, and if the smaller van was among the destroyed, you could say that all the vehicles were on the (Transit) Express to nowhere!

    I know, I know, when you have to work that hard for one of these…!

    Remember to tip your server (if the restaurant is still open)! I’ll show myself out!

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