Ford is targeting a phased restart for its North America operations beginning May 18, including restarting vehicle production in North America and bringing back the first wave of employees that are not able to do their jobs remotely.

“We’ve been working intently with state and federal governments, our union partners and a cross-section of our workforce to reopen our North American facilities,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s chief operating officer. “We have reopened our facilities in China, successfully begun our phased restart in Europe and have been producing medical equipment in Michigan for more than six weeks and are using the lessons from all of that to ensure we are taking the right precautions to help keep our workforce here safe.”

In this phased restart, Ford’s North American parts depots were to resume full operations on Monday, May 11. On May 18, Ford’s North American assembly plants previously operating on three-shift patterns will return with two-shifts, most two-shift plants will return on one shift and most one-shift plants will continue on one shift. Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. and Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ont., are expected to resume production the week of May 25 on one shift. Components plants will restart production as needed to support this plan.

The ramp-up process will be gradual as workers adjust to the new health and safety protocols and the entire supply chain comes up to speed.

“We’ve developed these safety protocols in coordination with our union partners, especially the UAW, and we all know it will take time to adjust to them,” said Gary Johnson, Ford’s chief manufacturing and labor officer. “We are in this together and plan to return to our normal operating patterns as soon as we are confident the system is ready for support.”

Ford is implementing a staggered approach to bring back approximately 12,000 “location-dependent” employees who are not able to do their jobs remotely, encompassing functions including product development, IT, facilities management and more. The staggered approach allows Ford to effectively implement new safety protocols and provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees as they return to work.

Ford Motor Company is taking a series of initiatives to further bolster the company’s cash position amid the coronavirus health crisis, maintain strategic flexibility on behalf of its team and customers, and set up Ford to separate itself from competitors when the global economy emerges from the current period of acute uncertainty.

“Like we did in the Great Recession, Ford is managing through the coronavirus crisis in a way that safeguards our business, our workforce, our customers and our dealers during this vital period,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett. “As America’s largest producer of vehicles and largest employer of autoworkers, we plan to emerge from this crisis as a stronger company that can be an engine for the recovery of the economy moving forward.”

The company on March 19 notified lenders that it will borrow the total unused amounts against two lines of credit: $13.4 billion under its corporate credit facility and $2 billion under its supplemental credit facility. The incremental cash from these borrowings will be used to offset the temporary working capital impacts of the coronavirus-related production shut downs and to preserve Ford’s financial flexibility.

“While we obviously didn’t foresee the coronavirus pandemic, we have maintained a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity so that we could weather economic uncertainty and continue to invest in our future,” Hackett said. “Our Ford people are extremely resilient and motivated, and I’m confident in the actions we are taking to navigate the current uncertainty while continuing to build toward the future.”

Ford has regularly described targets of having $20 billion in cash and $30 billion in liquidity heading into an economic downturn. At the end of 2019, those levels were $22 billion and $35 billion, respectively.

At the same time, Ford announced it has suspended the company’s dividend, prioritizing near-term financial flexibility and continued investments in an ambitious series of new-product launches in 2020 and long-term growth initiatives.

Also, Ford said it is withdrawing the guidance it gave on Feb. 4 for 2020 financial performance, which did not factor in effects of the coronavirus, given uncertainties in the business environment. The company will provide an update on the year when it announces first-quarter results, which is currently scheduled for April 28.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), General Motors Co., Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced they are forming a COVID-19/Coronavirus Task Force to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies.

UAW President Rory Gamble, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett and FCA CEO Michael Manley will lead the task force.

“Workplace health and safety is a priority for us every day, and all three companies have been taking steps to keep the COVID-19/coronavirus out of their facilities and during this national emergency, we will do even more working together,” said Gamble, who convened the leaders of all three companies. “We are focused on doing the right thing for our people, their families, our communities and the country.”

In a joint statement, the leaders of GM, Ford and FCA said, “This is a fluid and unprecedented situation, and the task force will move quickly to build on the wide-ranging preventive measures we have put in place. We are all coming together to help keep our workforces safe and healthy.”

The joint task force’s areas of focus will include vehicle production plans, additional social distancing, break and cleaning schedules, health and safety education, health screening, food service and any other areas that have the potential to improve protections for employees.

Fleet Complete’s integration with Ford will make telematics services readily available to more fleet owners. The turnkey solution allows joint customers to streamline their purchasing experience by eliminating the need for additional hardware installation.

As of March, all model year 2020 Ford vehicles, equipped with telematics-ready hardware, will have access to the Fleet Complete platform, without additional hardware and associated costs. Ford Data Services delivers seamless connectivity between Ford's built-in, highly secure hardware and Fleet Complete’s telematics software to help fleet-owning customers collect accurate vehicle data and identify cost reduction opportunities, increase safety, and improve operations.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Ford and empower any fleet-running business, big or small, with a turnkey solution that will give them access to a wide variety of information about their mobile resources on the road and in the field,” said Tony Lourakis, CEO of Fleet Complete. “This includes vehicle productivity and health, location data and route optimization, fuel economy and maintenance.”

Ford Issues Recall

February 14, 2020

Ford Motor Co. is issuing a safety recall for select 2013-18 Ford Flex, Ford Taurus Police Interceptor Sedan, Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT vehicles. Affected vehicles that are exposed to frequent full rear-suspension articulation (jounce and rebound) may experience a fractured rear suspension toe link. A rear toe link fracture while driving increases the risk of a crash.

Ford is not aware of any reports of accidents or injuries related to this condition for the specified vehicles. This action affects 211,207 vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories, 15,281 in Canada and 1,396 in Mexico.

Affected vehicles include: 2013-18 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT vehicles built at Oakville Assembly Plant, Sept. 12, 2011 to June 1, 2017; and the 2013-18 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor Sedan and Ford Taurus SHO Performance Pack equipped vehicles built at Chicago Assembly Plant, Aug. 25, 2011 to June 1, 2017.

Dealers will replace the left- and right-hand rear suspension toe links with new forged toe links. The Ford reference number for this recall is 20S04.

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