Irony has struck the production lines of Ford’s new aluminum-bodied F-150 as supplies of its steel frames can’t keep up. The shortage has caused Ford to cancel weekend and overtime shifts at both assembly plants as the frame supplier struggles to meet demand.

Industry analysts have been keeping a close eye on how the F-150’s new aluminum skin impacts the truck’s construction, sales, and the surrounding market, citing numerous concerns over Ford’s ability to mass produce a vehicle so aluminum intensive. It turns out, however, that Metalsa S.A. de C.V., Ford’s frame supplier with its plant located in Elizabethtown, Ky., is causing the hold-up. There is no word on why Metalsa production is unable to keep up.

Metalsa S.A. is a Mexican company that purchased Dana Corporation’s structural products business in 2010 and began investing $70 million into an additional 91,000 square feet of production area at Elizabethtown in 2014 in preparation for the all-new F-150.

As it turns out, the hold-ups have been happening since at least March. When asked by Automotive News bout the most recent slow-downs, Ford simply responded with, “We are producing the all-new F-150 at full production at Dearborn Truck Plant and will be at full production this quarter at our Kansas City Assembly Plant.”

The lack of frames has caused Ford to halt F-150 production on weekend shifts, including what the automaker calls “Super Sundays” where workers are able to make double their hourly wages thanks to overtime.

UPDATE 06/12/2015: Automotive News reports F-150 production has been reduced by 13,500 units over the last few months due to the frame shortage.

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Update History

UPDATE 06/12/2015: A Ford worker who attended a closed-door meeting with Ford officials tells Automotive News that F-150 production has taken a hit of 13,500 units because of the shortage of the high-strength steel frames that underpin the new 2015 F-150. Though Ford has yet to comment or even confirm the shortage, the automaker has cut overtime hours on two F-150 production lines as reported above.

What’s more, the lack of trucks and the slowing of Ford’s logistics chain has likely played a cause in the 1.1 percent drop in F-Series sales in from the first five months of 2014. However, Ford doesn’t break F-Series sales down between the F-150 and F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks, so the drop may not fully be the result of slowed F-150 production.

Why It Matters

A small kink in the F-150’s massive production supply chain has massive effects on Ford’s ability to produce the truck. With both the Dearborn and Kansas City assembly plants not at full production, dealers are liable to run low on stock. All told, it limits the customer’s options when choosing a truck off the lot and could potentially send the customer to a competing truck maker.

2015 Ford F-150 Earns NHTSA 5-Stars; Here's How:
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2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Exterior
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The brand new 2015 Ford F150 - Driven

Source: Automotive News

Mark McNabb
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