After Two-Month Downtime, Ford Ready To Restart Its Assembly Lines
With Ford set to restart its assembly lines on Monday, speculation has begun on when the automaker will begin making its long-anticipated Bronco.
Early Bronco Building Delayed
As recently as March, reports filled the Ford world that the renewed Bronco – it was last in production in the 1996 model year – was set to roll down the assembly line in June or July.
Then, the COVID-19 outbreak put the brakes on the auto industry as a whole. The result was that the Bronco – and its compact sibling the Bronco Sport – were going to be slipped a couple of months. September was the time when Bronco was supposed to begin rolling down the line, if, of course, the assembly lines were up and running.
No one knew, even as recently as a couple of weeks ago, when Michigan would allow auto manufacturers to begin making trucks again. And, when the makers did know when they could put vehicles together, they didn’t know what they would start.
With that said, it now appears that the all-new Ford Bronco won’t roll down the assembly line until later this year as a 2021 model. Meantime, reporter Jimmy Dinsmore discusses Ford's ad campaign responsible assembly line restart here.
Four Widely Anticipated Vehicles
Says The Drive, an online automotive enthusiast site, the Bronco, plus the anticipated next-generation F-150 pickup, the compact Bronco Sport, and the electric Mustang Mach-E were all delayed by Ford’s shutdown.
Ford has made changes to the F-150 series. The automaker is anxious to get them into the hands of dealers. As you know, pickups are the most profitable vehicles on a dealer’s lots, followed by SUVs. The next-gen F-150 will get to dealers this model year, but it will be about two months late. The Mustang Mach-E EV will arrive at the same time.
Not all is rosy at Ford as the formerly popular Fusion line is set got roll off into the sunset.
The Bronco and its smaller sibling, the Bronco Sport, will likely be delayed until 2021.
Tomorrow is a landmark in the industry battle with COVIT-19. The governor of Michigan has set Monday as the day when Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Autos can turn on their assembly lines with appropriate safety measures in place. The United Auto Workers (UAW) signed off on the restart as well.
The downtime has been unusually heavy for Ford. Reports say that the automaker had a $5 billion operating loss for the quarter, reports the Detroit News.
Ford Plans No Further Launch Delays
Hau Thai-Ting, head of product development and purchasing at Ford, told reporters at a news conference Friday that “we’re not going to do any additional delay to these launches beyond the impact of COVID-19 as a mechanism to conserve cash. Given our inability to work in the assembly plants during the shelter-in-place restrictions, it will have an impact on program timing in terms of the launches. But we expect the launch delays to be commensurate with the duration of the shutdown period.”
While Ford has begun reopening in other parts of the world where the pandemic is on the wane – China and Europe, notably – North American vehicle operations have remained shuttered.
During the automotive downtime, Ford employees have been doing other things to help fight the pandemic. They have been working on badly needed respirators, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). UAW workers at GM have been making ventilators to help in the battle against COVID-19.
Ford is likely anticipating the assembly line restart because the vehicles that will are money-makers. Indeed, the F-150 has been Ford’s strongest money-maker.
Ford F-150 Eagerly Anticipated
The next-gen F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E, have been eagerly awaited, as have the Bronco and the Bronco Sport.
Meantime, the Mustang Mach-E likely will start a subranding strategy by the automaker, Torque News has said. It is the automaker’s first mass-market EV, says thedrive.com. All four vehicles are essential to the company’s future.
Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper's auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn't much on four wheels that I haven't driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as Fixya.com and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Most of Marc's stories can be found at Torque News Ford coverage. Check back again and search for Torque News Ford F-150 news for more F-150 truck news coverage.