Ford Hires Second Supplier to Build Steel Frames for F-150 to Meet Demand
Ford Motor Co. has hired a second supplier to provide steel frames for its best-selling F-150
truck, hoping to better meet delivery demands amid a parts shortage from its current supplier,
according to people familiar with the matter.
The Dearborn, Mich., auto maker is struggling to get as many F-150s on dealer lots as originally
planned because its supplier, Mexico-based Metalsa S.A, is having trouble building enough frames
to keep pace with production needs, according to the people.
The frame shortage has been ongoing for months and continues to stifle production at Ford’s
two pickup plants at a time when light-truck demand—juiced by low gas prices—is running at
a 10-year high.
To fill the gap, Ford has tapped Livonia, Mich.-based supplier Tower International to build the
additional frames, which are expected to become available in October, people familiar with the
Meanwhile, the auto maker has been shipping frames to its factories by truck rather than rail
to get them there faster but at a higher cost, these people say.
With not enough frames, Ford has had to cancel planned overtime, and at times, temporarily
halt the assembly line during regular shift work as plant employees wait for more frame deliveries
to arrive, the people say.
In a statement, Ford said it anticipates having full availability of the F-150 by the end of the third
quarter. “We are at full production now, we are building stock at dealers and we continue to roll
out additional derivatives,” the company said. “As with all vehicle launches, we are working
closely with our suppliers to meet customer demand for the truck.”
A Tower spokesman declined to comment but public filings show the parts supplier currently
makes body structures for the F-series truck. Tower also builds frames for Ford’s Econoline
van at its plant in Bellevue, Ohio—a facility that is currently undergoing a major expansion.
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