An engine shortage halted production of the newly introduced 1998 Ford Escort ZX2 for five days last week.
A labor dispute at Ford's engine plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, led to a component shortage and a one-week shutdown at the Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant, the only place the ZX2 is built, according to sources familiar with the situation. Chihuahua builds Ford's 2.0-liter Zetec four-cylinder engine, which is the sole powerplant in the ZX2. An estimated 2,450 ZX2 units were lost, Ford said.
A $25 million ZX2 advertising campaign themed 'Grab life by the wheel' broke April 17. A CD-ROM called Highway ZX2 is being touted on 10 Web sites. Ford expects to sell about 100,000 of the entry-level sport coupes annually, primarily to college students and women.
Production began Feb. 17, and dealers are fairly well stocked.
The inventory of ZX2 models is 'a scratch lower' than Escort stock, which stood at a 53-day supply as of July 1, said Ford spokesman George Pipas. A 60-day supply is considered optimal.
Ford also lost 1,050 Escort and Mercury Tracer wagons because of the shutdown, Pipas said.
The engine shortage also forced a five-day production halt on the car line at Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Mo. The car line builds Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique sedans. An estimated 85 percent of the models are equipped with the Zetec four-cylinder, Pipas said.
About 4,500 Contours and Mystiques were lost. There was a 41-day supply of Contour and a 60-day supply of Mystique as of July 1.