Ford Motor Co. last week asked suppliers to stop sharing photos of upcoming vehicles with the media, according to a memo shared with Automotive News.
Images of the Bronco SUV, Bronco Sport crossover and upcoming Maverick compact pickup leaked ahead of their formal introductions. Before a full image of the compact pickup emerged, images and computer renderings of the vehicle's alleged tailgate, stamped with the name Maverick, leaked.
Many of the images were first published by forums and websites dedicated to specific models. While not identifying nameplates, Ford said "a number of these breaches" have come from supplier partners.
"We cannot underscore enough the negative impact of these unfortunate actions on our collective business results," the automaker said in the memo, signed by Jonathan Jennings, the automaker's vice president for global commodity purchasing and supplier technical assistance.
Ford prohibits photographs or video of any portion of prototypes prior to official public introductions, with or without camouflage, or even with a vehicle cover.
"Because the damage to our organizations can be significant, Ford will treat confirmed supplier security breaches with heightened scrutiny," Jennings warned in the memo. "Suppliers could face business repercussions and even recovery actions for damages tied to leaks caused or enabled by suppliers."
All automakers typically contend with leaks and spy photos as new model launches draw near. In some cases, such as with the Mustang Mach-E in late 2019, the leaks are accidentally self-inflicted.
But in recent cases, photos of upcoming Ford models appear to have been shot from within plants or other manufacturing facilities.