Redesigned Ford F-150 pickup ‘on track’ despite coronavirus plant shutdowns

The redesigned Ford F-150 remains scheduled to start production and go on sale in 2020 despite massive industry disruption caused by the coronavirus, Ford said.

"We are on track to deliver our all-new Ford F-150 to customers starting this fall," said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager

"The team continues to do an amazing job moving the program forward, even with coronavirus challenges. We look forward to showing the world our all-new pickup soon and start delivering to customers this year."

Felker declined to provide timelines for when its F-150 factories in Michigan and Missouri would shut down to retool operations for the 2021 model.

Ford and its competitors closed U.S. plants in late March due to the pandemic. The Dearborn automaker canceled its F-150 media briefing on April 29. Ford, along with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, plans to restart factory production in North America next week.

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Ford is required to provide the UAW a copy of the preliminary annual summer shutdown schedule by June 1 for review, according to the labor contract, the union confirmed Thursday. That schedule will include factory shutdowns from June through October.

According to preliminary production schedules of Ford plants, which have been shared with their suppliers for planning purposes, there is no obvious time period listed — typically four weeks — to shut down Ford's F-150-making Kansas City Assembly or Dearborn Truck plants to retool to build the redesigned model.

The annual summer shutdown schedule reflects one- or two-week blocks to perform scheduled maintenance. Felker indicated that a big changeover can be done in much less than four weeks.

Suppliers need to know in advance the scheduling so they can make sure necessary materials are available. One missing part paralyzes the whole process.

$75,000 pickup truck

The bestselling F-Series pickups are Ford's most valuable franchise. The F-150 is sometimes called the "golden goose" by analysts who have said Ford's financial health depends on the F-Series.

The cost of a 2020 F-150 can start at $28,745 and even exceed $75,000 with, as Ford executives like to say, "all the bells and whistles." The average cost of the F-Series is $51,585.

Tim Stone, Ford chief financial officer, said during the first-quarter earnings call last month that the company expected to have enough cash to last through December 2020 based on known conditions during this uncertain time.

Currently, the F-150 has the oldest design of pickup trucks made by the Detroit Three companies, competing with the increasingly popular Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of the company, said that the company turns out an F-150 every 52 seconds in normal times.

Overlooking problems early in the process won't happen again, Hackett said.

Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter @phoebesaid.


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