May 14 (UPI) — Ford Motor Co. said it hopes to resume production of F-150 pickups as soon as next Friday after a fire at a supplier’s plant on May 2.
On Wednesday, Ford announced production of its best-selling Ford F-150 truck was halted at two plants, idling 7,600 workers at plants in Dearborn, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo., because they ran out of parts. Most of the workers will be paid during the temporary layoff, the company said.
“Our teams are working tirelessly and around the clock to get our bestselling vehicle back into production as fast as possible,” Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, told the Detroit Free Press on Friday night. “This situation remains very fluid.”
The parts plant, owned by Meridian Magnesium Products of America, was hit by a fire and explosion in Eaton Rapids, Mich. Two people were injured and 250 employees were temporarily put out of work.
“We’re trying to have production up as soon as possible. It’s safe to say before June 1,” said Benjamin Wu, chief legal officer and public affairs director for Meridian Magnesium Products of America, told the Free Press.
The supplier makes the “front bolster,” which reinforces the engine where the radiator is attached, for the F-150, F-Series Super Duty trucks, Expedition and Navigator. In addition, the company makes a third-row seat cushion pan for the Ford Explorer, Ford Flex and the Lincoln MKT, and a lift gate for the MKT.
Production of the Super Duty, a larger version of the pickup truck, was halted at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky., but continued production of the truck at another plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.
“Our die casting is down,” Wu said. “We have 15 total machines. We believe three or four machines are down permanently. But right now, roofing is the biggest issue. We don’t want to fire things up without following safety protocols. We think we can power up eight machines in the near term if the facility is repaired.”
With production stopped, Ford has about an 84-day supply of the truck in dealers’ inventories.
In the first four months this year, Ford sold 287,000 F Series trucks in the United States.