In February, things started getting bleak with the global semiconductor chip shortage. Automakers, including everyone from Ford to GM but not Toyota, had to limit production due to lack of parts. At the time, Ford issued a dire warning that it could create a production deficit bad enough to cut into its profits by $2.5 billion, and well, nothing has changed to improve the situation since.
Automakers have a grim choice: plow ahead without the right parts or make nothing. Weighing its options, Ford has gone with the first one and started building F-150s and Edge crossovers without some of the components it’d normally use. General Motors announced on Monday that it’s just going right ahead and making pickups without a fuel management module, hurting fuel economy by one mile per gallon. Ford thinks its choice will have a less critical impact, saying the modules are mostly tied to infotainment and windshield wiper controls—not that the vehicles will go out to customers unfinished, though.
An Automotive News report says that the affected models will be built and then held onto by Ford until the automaker can get the parts. They’ll then undergo “comprehensive quality checks” before they’re allowed to go to dealers, with the missing modules fitted after the main build.
That’s not an economical or desirable way to go about building a truck, particularly not one as important to Ford as the F-150, possibly or even probably the most profitable vehicle of all time. For a company whose reputation and economics were built on the assembly line, this is an ass-about-elbow way of making cars but also, given the situation, the only thing it can do if it’s going to move chassis. Frustratingly, that even means waiting what Ford is calling “a number of weeks” with trucks unfinished.
Ford also confirmed that it’ll cut the Thursday evening shift as well as both Friday shifts at its Louisville Assembly Plant, where the Escape crossover and Lincoln Corsair are built.
Automotive News reported a Ford spokesperson as saying that the installation of the F-150’s and Edge’s missing modules can be done at off-site plants, keeping the factories running relatively normally. Emphasis on “relatively” given the major shortage of something cars need a heck of a lot of these days and which we’ve been hoovering up for consumer electronics for the past year. Expect this problem, like the unfinished trucks, to be going nowhere for a while.
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