Ford halts F-150 production in Kansas City after supplier fire
Mercedes-Benz, BMW also impacted
A supplier fire in Michigan last week is pinching production of the F-150 pickup, but the impact is expected to be minimal for both Ford Motor Co. and its dealers.
The automaker on Monday said it will halt F-150 production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant May 7-14 because of a parts shortage following a massive fire at a plant owned by Meridian Lightweight Technologies. About 3,600 workers will be temporary layoff for that period, during which they’ll receive roughly 80 percent of their take-home pay.
While the F-150 is Ford’s most important vehicle in terms of sales, the automaker has enough stock to be able to weather the downtime.
At the end of April, Ford had an 84-days supply of F-series pickups, according to AutoData. Even with heavy demand, the production stoppage would likely have to last for multiple weeks to dent those numbers.
F-series sales in the U.S. rose 4.1 percent to 287,295 through April, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
In addition to Kansas City, Ford also builds the F-150 at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan. Production at that facility is unaffected by the supplier fire, Ford said.
Other automakers said the impact will be less significant.
Mercedes-Benz, one of Meridian's other clients, said some of its operations were not affected by the incident. However, at other shops, Mercedes "will temporarily halt production through midweek until an assessment and recovery plan is confirmed," a spokesperson told Automotive News in an email.
BMW, in a statement to Automotive News, said production of its X5 crossover will be affected Monday afternoon and evening. It said its plant South Carolina has an inventory of parts on hand.
General Motors said there was no immediate impact to its operations, although its global supply chain team continues to monitor the situation.
The fire took place at Meridian’s 208,000-square-foot plant in Eaton Rapid, Mich., near Lansing. The Lansing State Journal reported that two people were injured and more than 150 workers were evacuated due to the fire and ensuing explosions.
Meridian produces instrument panel components at the plant, with annual production of around 13,140 net metric tons (14,484 tons), the supplier's website said.
No cause determined
The cause of the fire has not been identified. The plant was bringing operations back online, the company said.
“I have not been able to get in to do a fire cause investigation. There is just too much rubble in the way and they haven't cleared that out yet,” Eaton Rapids Fire Chief Roger McNutt told Automotive News in an email on Monday.
Plant Manager George Asher last week said in a statement emailed to Automotive News: "The immediate goal for the team at Meridian is to perform our evaluation of damage so that we can assess when we can return to normal operations."
Meridian said it is working with its customers to move dies to its plants in Strathroy, Ontario, and the United Kingdom, Asher wrote, though the letter did not disclose the names of the customers.
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