Ford Motor Co. is scrambling to find enough steel frames to keep up with demand for its best-selling F-150 truck.
The automaker reportedly has hired a second supplier — Tower International Inc. — to build the frames for the redesigned aluminum-bodied truck, which is produced at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo and at a plant in Dearborn, Mich.
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the frame’s main supplier, Mexico-based Metalsa SA, was having trouble building enough of the parts to keep pace with production needs.
With frames in short supply, Ford has had to cancel planned overtime at the plants, and has temporarily halted assembly lines during regular shifts as workers waited for more frames to arrive, the Journal said. Ford has resorted to shipping the frames by truck rather than rail to get them there faster, but at a higher cost, the newspaper said.
Ford has been dealing with the frame shortage for several months, and tight F-150 inventories on dealer lots have allowed rivals to gain truck business.
Ford declined to directly comment Monday on the frame shortages. But the company said in a statement that it expects to have full availability of the F-150 at dealerships by the end of September.
“We are at full production now, we are building stock at dealers, and we continue to roll out additional” configurations, the company said. “As with all vehicle launches, we are working closely with our suppliers to meet customer demand for the truck.”
After sales of the vehicle slipped every month from February through June, drivers snapped up 66,300 in July, according to sales figures released last week. That's 11,100 more than in June and a 4.8 percent increase over July of last year.
Ford began building the more fuel-efficient, aluminum-bodied F-150 at Dearborn late last year; production at Claycomo began this spring after a series of major investments to retool the plant. A heavier duty version of the F-series built in Louisville, Ky., will move to aluminum body panels starting next year.
The Claycomo plant, which also assembles the Transit cargo van, has 7,485 employees, including 7,189 hourly workers, according to the latest Ford figures.