Ford Halts Production For Some Trucks After Parts Maker Catches Fire

Windsor assembly plant workers see shorter shifts after fire at parts factory

Ford (NYSE:F) says it is halting all production of F-150 pickup trucks, the company's most profitable and popular model, after a fire knocked out production at one of its suppliers. "Kansas City Assembly Plant is down this week due to a part shortage caused by a fire at a supplier facility".

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz also reported production disruptions.

"The impact on everybody else is going to pale compared to Ford", Abhay "Abe" Vadhavkar, director of manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., told the paper.

Ford said Wednesday it halted production of Super Duties, comprised of F-250 through F-750 models, but the factories in OH and Kentucky continue churning out other vehicles, including the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator full-size SUVs and the Econoline van. That includes some larger trucks than the F-150, although the F-150 makes up the overwhelming majority of those sales.

Ford generates about $40 billion a year in revenue from the F-Series line.

Ford Motor faces a complete production shutdown of its profit-driving F-150 pickups for an unknown period of time.

A decision is pending on when or if the Dearborn, Mich., Truck Plant will shut down, which would affect another 4,000 workers. The website TheDetroitBureau.com reports Ford is starting a complete shutdown of the F-150 production. "It's a full team effort and we're confident that any impacts will be short term".

Ford stock began dropping Wednesday with news of a supply problem, the length of which has not been determined by automakers.

The fire, which was followed by a series of explosions, at Meridian Magnesium Products remains under investigation.

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Meridian makes aluminum and magnesium structural components at four plants in North America.

Meridian is owned by Chinese supplier Wanfeng Auto Holding Group. Automakers use magnesium parts to cut weight in vehicles, and improve fuel economy.

The fire destroyed this plant in Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

"I would guess about three-quarters of the production area was affected", he said.

Officials at Meridian are still assessing the damage from the fire and have yet to reopen.

Analysts and the company said F-150 inventory is fine for now but the situation is volatile.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford built 29,572 trucks in Kansas City and 31,482 trucks at its Dearborn factory last month. Magnesium is pressure-fed into a cast and then rapid cooled, sort of like making Jell-O.

Ford confirmed early Wednesday that its truck output in Kansas City, Missouri, was on hiatus. Meanwhile, the automaker ended April with almost a quarter million trucks on the ground at dealerships, a high percentage were F-150 models.

"It is a very fluid situation", company spokeswoman Kelli Felker said Tuesday.

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