Ford Aims for Normal Output by July 6
Ford predicts its U.S. assembly plants will achieve pre-coronavirus output volumes by July 6.
Ford’s Dearborn Truck plant (Image: Ford)
Like other carmakers operating in North American, Ford idled its plants in the region on March 18.
The original plan was to reopen them two weeks later. But the expanding pandemic—coupled with stay-home orders in key manufacturing states—kept automotive facilities shuttered until May 18.
Ford climbed back to 96% of its targeted volume in the U.S. at the end of last week, according to Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley. He says the company’s pickup truck plants began with two shifts, added overtime and will soon go to three-shift operation.
Detroit’s Big Three producers have been especially eager to rev up truck output quickly. No surprise there: U.S. demand for pickups, although dented by the coronavirus pandemic, has been far milder than the drop in sales of most other types of vehicles.
More important, U.S. carmakers count on pickups for a huge chunk of their profits in the truck-happy North American market.
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Several years back, one of the authors visited a major North American assembly plant engaged in the launch of a new vehicle program. A "ramp-up" schedule was prominently displayed on a bulletin board deep in the heart of the plant. The schedule indicated that the day of the visit was the same day the plant was originally planned to achieve full capacity production of its new product. Yet the plant was actually producing only a few units an hour! The assembly plant's tardiness is certainly not uncommon, but did contribute to our interest in the wide range in vehicle launch performance across major vehicle firms.
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?