FoMoCo went into the 2020 calendar year with an ambitious launch schedule on deck, with a new cash cow F-150 on the way, along with buzz-generating Bronco, and mass-market-EV Mustang Mach-E SUV. All of those were meant to launch this year to great fanfare, pomp, and indeed circumstance. Then a global pandemic popped up and threw a fuck-off-huge wrench in the works.
All three of these important new models have been, as a result of covid-19 lockdowns, pushed back. Ford expects each new vehicle launch to be pushed back by about the same amount of time that its factories have been sitting not making cars. Ford’s plan was to re-start production in North America on Monday, May 18th (today), giving an inactivity delay of about two months.
Ford had a rough Q1, and has already predicted an even worse Q2 with as much as $5 billion in operating losses. It then needs to get back on track and get its factories pumping out cars as quickly as possible. Adding this two months into its new vehicle launch timeline means the Mach-E and new F-150 should still launch in the second half of 2020, possibly joined by the compact Bronco Sport. The full-sized Bronco, however, will be pushed from a 2020 date out into the first part of 2021.
“We’re not going to do any additional delay to these launches beyond the impact of Covid-19 as a mechanism to conserve cash,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s head of product development and purchasing, said Friday at a Bank of America analysts’ conference. “Given our inability to work in the assembly plants during the shelter-in-place restrictions, it will have an impact to program timing, in terms of the launches. But we expect the launch delays to be commensurate with the duration of the shutdown period.”
I do hope that in its desperation to return to producing cars, that the company isn’t rushing its workers into an unsafe workplace. Without massive testing efforts, we still have very little control over coronavirus in the U.S. It seems many people are of the belief that we have beat this thing and everything is going back to normal, but it bears reminding that nearly 20,000 new cases were found yesterday, and over 1,000 people died. An asymptomatic carrier of the virus can infect an unprepared workplace quite quickly.
I’m not saying Ford specifically isn’t prepared. I’m saying the United States isn’t prepared.