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Auto blogTue, 22 Oct 2013
Ford will be putting the brakes on production at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI, idling production during the weeks of October 28 and December 16. Ford is citing the first drop in US sales in 27 months, a 4.2-percent dip in September, as the impetus for trimming their supplies, according to Automotive News.
Ford's deft management of its supplies has been part of its success over the years, and seeing supplies of Focus and C-Max, the two vehicles built at MAP, rise from 58 and 108 days, respectively, to 71 and 122 days over the span of a month was apparently all that was need to justify the trimming. As AN points out, the rule of thumb for many automakers is to maintain a 60-day supply of vehicles.
"Ford has been focused on keeping their pricing in check. Their operating margin is in double digits. Nobody else is there and they're obviously very proud of that," Alan Baum, an auto analyst with Baum & Associates told AN. Keeping the supply chain operating smoothly and not increasing supplies too much is crucial to that healthy profit margin. After all, a large supply lowers prices ,which, in turn, cuts profit. So while this news might not be great for employees at MAP, who now have an extra two weeks of vacation time, it's far from a sign of problems in Dearborn. Quite the opposite, actually.
Ford had a bit of a recall spree around this time last year, with a pair of issues on the then-new 2013 Escape, followed by a recall of 423,000 2001 to 2004 Escapes because they might accelerate of their own accord. Accordingly, Uncle Sam pasted Ford with a $17.35 million fine because it took too long to inform customers, according to a report from Automotive News.
Ford agreed to settle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accepting the fine but not admitting fault. The recall, which afflicted Escapes with the 3.0-liter V-6 along with 217,000 Mazda Tributes from 2001 to 2006 and 2008, was due to faulty gas pedals that could stay down after a driver removed their foot.
Ford issued a statement regarding the fine, saying, "We take the safety of our customers seriously and continuously evaluate our processes for improvements. While we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government."
Formula One World Champions Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell haven't been on good terms since the 1986 season, when Piquet joined Mansell at the Williams team and Piquet spent the year privately fuming about not being granted the status of number one driver. Things only got worse from there - even though Piquet won the title the following year with Williams, still partnered with Mansell, the fuming was a lot less private.
They're back together after a 25-year silence, in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil to drive the new Ford Fusion. Called "Fusion Grand Prix," both men get the new Ford sedan, prepped to their liking - but still street legal, we assume - for a race to decide... well, who is faster behind the wheel of a Fusion.
There will be four episodes, with the first two having already aired. The third episode comes on January 29 and the race happens February 5. You'll find two video episodes and a press release below, but note - because it's a campaign for Ford Brazil, Piquet's dialogue in the vids isn't translated, so hit the Closed Captioning button to hear his side of the smack talking.