CHICAGO Feb 6 Heavy snow and bone-chilling
weather this year have taken a toll on Ford Motor Co's
U.S. vehicle production just as the company kicks off the
biggest year of new model launches in its history, a top
executive said on Thursday.
Extreme weather conditions have made it difficult for Ford
to get auto parts delivered to plants on time. Ford, Toyota
Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and General Motors
Co have all had to halt production at times over the last
five weeks due to the weather.
"We've lost production at a number of facilities," Joe
Hinrichs, head of Ford's North and South American operations,
told reporters. Stoppages occur in "fits and starts - three
hours here, go home early there, because of the network."
Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, has enough vehicles on
dealer lots to offset the drop in production, Hinrichs said.
The company said this week that its Michigan Assembly Plant,
which builds the Focus compact car, will be closed through
Sunday due to weather-induced parts shortages.
Bad weather discouraged many consumers from going to dealer
showrooms in January, several major automakers said this week.
As a result, GM, Ford and other companies reported a
higher-than-normal level of unsold cars on dealer lots.
"One time northern Indiana went into emergency and you
couldn't drive on the roads," Hinrichs said. "Louisville got six
inches of snow and it shut down the place. Kansas City shut down
the roads the other day."
He added: "I'll tell you this, in my 20-some years in this
industry, I've never seen five weeks like this of weather like
The bout of extreme weather will test Ford's ability to
ensure its busy year goes off without a hitch. Hinrichs has been
a key player in the company's effort to avoid missteps that
could undermine or delay the introduction of those new vehicles.
So far, Ford's upcoming launches are all on track, including
the Lincoln MKC crossover and the highly anticipated revamp of
the lucrative and top-selling F-150 pickup truck.
The MKC is the second of four models intended to reboot the
Lincoln brand's image. Ford tried to relaunch the premium brand
in late 2012 with the MKZ sedan, but a shortage of parts and
problems in manufacturing delayed the MKZ's launch for months.