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Supplier Fire Leads Ford to Shut Down F-150

While this spring’s pickup market share race has been full of successes, it’s also been full of drama.

Pickup trucks are sort of having a moment. March of 2018 was the highest selling month in history for models like the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevy Colorado, and Chevy actually sold 25 percent more trucks overall than it did in the same month a year prior. GM and Ford are actually neck-and-neck, each with over 200,000 units sold in the first quarter.

But while this spring’s pickup market share race has been full of successes, it’s also been full of drama, and last week we reported that Chrysler was struggling to maintain momentum amidst major Dodge Ram production glitches.

Well, Ford has just added a new twist to the saga, announcing that a fire at a supplier’s plant has resulted in a part shortage so significant that the company would actually need to shut down the production of its best-selling F-150.

The fire occurred May 2nd at Meridian Magnesium Products, an Eaton Rapids, MI company who supplies die-cast parts to Ford and other automakers, and was severe enough to injure two people and destroy the plant’s entire roof.

While Ford has been scrambling to try to find another supplier to fill in on these critical components, until then, it has been forced to shutter both the Kansas City and Dearborn, Michigan plants – impacting thousands of workers. Authorities call the situation “fluid” but analysts say any shutdown that lasts longer than a week could have major impacts on Ford’s second quarter.

Detroit News quote’s Ford’s executive vice president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, as saying they don’t see this impacting sales at all, but some analysts suggest that, while F-150 inventory is sufficient right now, it won’t take too much to draw it down into shortage territory.

And if that’s the case, will buyers wait? Maybe. The F-150 is the best-selling US vehicle by any manufacturer, and has been for more than 40 years. So while it’s clear there is a lot of loyalty to this model amongst consumers, it also underscores just how important the F-150 is to Ford’s profitability.

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