Parts shortage plagues F-150 production; Ford cuts more shifts in Dearborn, Kansas City

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press

Ford Motor Co. plans to further cut production of its highly profitable F-150 pickup truck next week because of a part shortage roiling the auto industry, the company confirmed Thursday.

Ford is monitoring the status of a highly fluid situation involving semiconductor chips needed for technology in all vehicles now, said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager.

The Ford F-Series is the financial backbone of the 117-year-old company, worth about $50 billion in sales annually. 

Now the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan and the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, will be cutting shifts that build those trucks starting Monday.

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Dearborn Truck, which employs 4,600 hourly workers, will drop from three shifts to one shift for one week. Kansas City Assembly, which employs 7,300 hourly workers building the truck and the Transit Van, will drop from three shifts to two shifts on the F-150 line for one week.

Both plants are scheduled to return to three shifts the week of Feb. 15. Transit production remains on two shifts, which is normal.

"We are working closely with suppliers to address potential production constraints tied to the global semiconductor shortage and working to prioritize key vehicle lines for production, making the most of our semiconductor allocation," Felker said.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor. This third generation 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will be available for sale this summer.

The auto industry has been hit especially hard by a shortage of semiconductor parts because of global disruption caused by COVID-19.

Automakers use semiconductors, or chips, for automation, electrification, digital connectivity and security — for everything from computer management of the engine to driver-assistance such as emergency braking.

'Very fluid'

Thousands of United Auto Workers members will be temporarily laid off, though Ford couldn't provide specific shift numbers. Hourly workers in the U.S. will get about 75% of their gross pay, which is negotiated as part of its labor contract.

This is the latest action by Ford, which already had cut shifts in Dearborn, Kansas City and at the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Louisville Assembly Plant. Chicago builds the bestselling Ford Explorer, Police Interceptor and Lincoln Aviator. Louisville builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair.

"Our production schedule is very fluid right now due to the global semiconductor shortage," Felker told the Free Press previously. "We are working closely with suppliers to address potential production constraints." 

In addition, Ford suspended production at a plant in Germany from Jan. 18 to Feb. 19, which builds the Ford Focus for Europe. In Canada, its Oakville, Ontario, plant that builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, employing 3,500 hourly workers, will be down this week because of supply chain and other issues.

General Motors has also cut production, along with Stellantis and other automakers globally. Analysts predict the chip shortage won't be resolved until the third quarter of 2020.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 her on Twitter@phoebesaid.