DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. late Thursday acknowledged the Mexican state of Chihuahua's 50 percent cap on employees in manufacturing facilities, spurred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is unsustainable and could eventually disrupt U.S. light-vehicle production.
The U.S. ambassador to Mexico said Ford could shutter American plants as soon as next week if restrictions there don't ease, Reuters reported Thursday. In a statement, Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and International Markets Group, said the automaker does not anticipate a shutdown next week but did not rule out the possibility in the future.
"Due to COVID-19, the State of Chihuahua in Mexico has limited employee attendance to 50 percent, a region in which we have several suppliers," Galhotra said in the statement. "With our U.S. plants running at 100 percent, that is not sustainable. While we do not expect any impact to production next week, we are continuing to work with government officials on ways to safely and constructively resume remaining production."
Galhotra was among executives who attended a dinner at the White House Wednesday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
In addition to sourcing parts from suppliers who operate there, Ford operates an engine plant in Chihuahua -- with nearly 2,500 workers -- that builds a number of gasoline and hybrid engines. The engines are found in a number of vehicles ranging from the soon-to-be-discontinued Fusion sedan to the profitable Super Duty pickup.
The automaker restarted U.S. assembly plants in mid-May after a two-month shutdown because of the coronavirus. After some initial hiccups that included workers testing positive for the virus, Ford has ramped up production to pre-pandemic levels and is working to restock dealership inventory.