A new memo reveals a worst-case scenario situation.
Ford can't take any chances when it comes to the F-150. The full-size pickup truck, completely redesigned for 2021, has been the Blue Oval's cash cow for years while also dominating the segment in terms of sales. As production of the new Ford F-150 gets underway, the automaker is preparing in case things don't go exactly to plan. The Detroit Free Press has obtained a memo sent to autoworkers by the UAW at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan in regards to being ready to help their fellow Ford assembly line workers at the nearby Dearborn Truck Plant with potential repairs.
"There have been rumors of us doing repairs for F-150. In the event that the launch for the F-150 doesn't go well, we are on the list of getting some repair cars," wrote Flat Rock facility chairman Kenny Tomalak.
"This is all in preparation for the worst case scenario. Early indications show that the launch will go well, but management is preparing for the worst just in case. There are three plants that are in this plan and we are the third after DTP (Dearborn Truck Plant, which builds the F-150) themselves. I will keep you informed as more develops."
Issuing a memo like this, according to one Flat Rock employee, is "very unusual." But why is Flat Rock suddenly being asked to be on standby? Because last year at this time plant workers played a major role in repairing the then-new 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator SUVs following their launch debacle at an overwhelmed Chicago Assembly Plant. The first units off the line had a number of quality control issues that required immediate repairs before being shipped to dealerships.
Ford has learned a lesson from that experience, but the Explorer isn't as important to its bottom line as the F-150. Having Flat Rock ready to help is a justified precautionary measure.
"We did a phenomenal job returning the Explorers and Aviators that had so many issues in Chicago," an unidentified Flat Rock worker said. "Please understand, if the F-150 launch doesn't go well, that's not good for anybody. We don't want a brand new vehicle to be in need of repair."
Ford declined to comment on the memo, only reiterating the new F-150 launch is "on track and on time." No matter what, the 2021 F-150 must be problem-free. Failure is not an option.