Ford redesigning parts to use more accessible chips, weighing direct deals with chip foundries

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) -Ford Motor Co, in response to the global semiconductor shortage, is redesigning automotive components to use more accessible chips, the No. 2 U.S. automaker’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Jim Farley, speaking at Ford’s online annual shareholder meeting, also said the company is weighing other strategies for the future, including building a buffer supply of chips and signing supply deals directly with the foundries that make the wafers used in semiconductors.

Automakers typically get their chips through their largest suppliers, not dealing directly with chip makers and the foundries that make the wafers used to assemble the semiconductors.

The chip shortage has caused automakers globally to curtail production. Last month, Ford said the issue would cost it $2.5 billion this year and halve its vehicle production in the second quarter, when the shortage will be at its worst. The shortage has forced Ford at times to idle production of its highly profitable F-150 pickup trucks.

Farley said on Thursday that about 60% of the chips used in Ford’s vehicles are 55-nanometer or larger, what he called “mature nodes.” He said supply of those chips was constrained.

Longer-term changes about how Ford approaches chips are being considered, he said.

“Not only are we redesigning a lot of our components to work with chips that are more accessible … but we think we need to look at buffer stocks, actual direct contracts with some of the foundries,” Farley said. “We think that’s going to be a really critical approach to our supply chain as we get more electronic components.”

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford also said on Thursday the automaker will look to reinstate the company’s dividend “as soon as possible.”

Ford’s dividend was suspended in March 2020 after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit in a move to conserve cash. That saved the company $2.4 billion at an annual rate.

Ford shares were up 3% in morning trading.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Ford outlines further production cuts due to global chip shortage

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co on Wednesday outlined another series of plant shutdowns due to the global semiconductor chip shortage, with five facilities in the United States and one in Turkey affected.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker did not outline how many vehicles would be lost in the latest actions, and reiterated it intends to provide an update of the financial impact of the chip shortage at its quarterly earnings on April 28.

The firm this month announced production cuts at plants in Chicago, Flat Rock, Michigan, and Kansas City, as well as implementing a reduced schedule at its Ohio Assembly Plant, the latest in a string of chip-related curtailments.

Ford said in March it expected the semiconductor shortage to cost between $1 billion and $2.5 billion.

The company said in addition to the chip shortage, other factors driving the shutdowns included the previously reported fire at Renesas Electronics Corp’s chip-making factory in Japan, and prior severe winter storms in Texas.

Industry officials have previously said the shortage would be worse in the second quarter than in the first.

It was not clear if supplies would recover in the third quarter and whether automakers could make up all the lost production later this year.

Many North American automakers cancelled chip orders after plants were shut for two months during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, while demand surged from the consumer electronics industry as people worked from home and played video games.

That has now left carmakers competing for chips.

Semiconductors are used extensively in cars, including to monitor engine performance, manage steering or automatic windows, and in sensors used in parking and entertainment systems.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Chris Reese and Jan Harvey)

GM, Ford cutting more North American production due to chip shortage

By David Shepardson and Ankit Ajmera

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co both said on Thursday they will cut more vehicle production due to a semiconductor chip shortage that has roiled the global automotive industry.

The White House plans a summit on the chip shortage issue next Monday that is expected to include GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley and top technology firm executives.

A U.S. auto industry group this week urged the government to help and warned that a global semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built this year and disrupt production for another six months.

President Joe Biden wants at least $50 billion to help boost U.S. semiconductor production, but that will not address short-term needs. “This is something that there is a great deal of focus at the highest level across government,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The largest U.S. automaker said it will cut production for two weeks at its Spring Hill assembly plant that makes popular SUVs starting on Monday, and cut a week of Chevrolet Blazer production at its Ramos plant in Mexico and its Lansing Delta Township factory in Michigan.

GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly will extend its downtime through the week of April 26, while its CAMI Assembly (Canada) and Fairfax Assembly plants will extend production shutdowns through the week of May 10.

Ford, the second-largest U.S automaker, said it will cancel production next week at its Chicago Assembly Plant, its Flat Rock Assembly Plant and part of its Kansas City Assembly Plant. It will also operate its Ohio Assembly Plant on a reduced schedule.

Ford said it will operate more plants this summer during traditional shutdown weeks to make up for lost production.

GM said the latest cuts have been factored into its forecast that the shortage could reduce this year’s profit by up to $2 billion.

GM said it has not taken downtime or reduced shifts at any of its more profitable full-size truck or full-size SUV plants due to the shortage.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)

Ford latest automaker to shut North American plants on U.S. winter weather

By Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Freezing weather that interrupted gas supplies in the southern United States and Mexico was wreaking havoc on Thursday with car manufacturing plants on both sides of the border, with Ford saying several of its assembly plants have been shut.

The cold snap has overwhelmed Texas’ power grid, while natural gas supplies to Mexico from Texas were interrupted, leaving millions without power in Mexico’s industrial northern states earlier in the week.

Mexico generates most of its power from natural gas, largely imported from the United States. The two countries also require intricate supply chains to be functional to supply auto and other industrial operations on both sides of the border.

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said adverse weather had led to the temporary closure of plants in Kansas City, Flat Rock and Ohio, as well as a plant in Hermosillo in the northern Mexican border state of Sonora.

Late on Wednesday, Volkswagen said it would suspend some production in Mexico on Thursday and Friday due to a limited natural gas supply in the country. The cut in supply also affected Audi as well as General Motors’ plant in the central city of Silao, where work was stopped on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Ford’s Kansas City plant’s operations have been canceled from Feb 13-22, the company said in a statement to Reuters.

Ford said it plans to run double shifts in its plants in Chicago, Dearborn and Oakville.

Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy, has reeled as gas imports via pipeline from Texas dropped by about 75% over the last week, causing billions of dollars of losses on power outages and factory closures.

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and David Gregorio)

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Tesla Inc had been given the green light to produce ventilators and other items needed during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” he said on Twitter.

(Reporting By Susan Heavey and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Senate confirms Kavanaugh for Supreme Court; to be sworn in on Saturday

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh arrives for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert/File Photo

By Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A deeply divided U.S. Senate on Saturday confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as Republicans dismissed sexual assault accusations against the conservative judge and delivered a major victory to President Donald Trump.

By a vote of 50-48, the Senate gave a lifetime job to Kavanaugh, 53, after weeks of fierce debate over sexual violence, privilege and alcohol abuse that convulsed the nation just weeks before congressional elections on Nov. 6.

Kavanaugh will be sworn in almost immediately on Saturday by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to a statement from the court.

The Senate vote takes the highest U.S. court down a more conservative path perhaps for many years and is a bitter blow to Democrats already chafing at Republican control of the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

Adding to the drama, women protesters in the Senate gallery shouting, “Shame on you,” briefly interrupted the start of the final confirmation vote on Saturday afternoon.

Kavanaugh’s nomination became an intense personal and political drama when university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in a wealthy suburb of Washington in 1982.

Two other women accused him in the media of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh fought back hard, denying the accusations in angry and tearful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that was viewed live on television by around 20 million people.

Trump stood by Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge with a history of advancing Republican causes, and this week mocked Ford’s account of what she says was a drunken attack on her by Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

U.S. Capitol Police arrest protesters from the steps of the Capitol in the hours ahead of a scheduled U.S. Senate vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S. October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Capitol Police arrest protesters from the steps of the Capitol in the hours ahead of a scheduled U.S. Senate vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S. October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

TRUMP TWEET

Trump, seeking a legacy as the president who put a strongly conservative stamp on the court, praised the Senate for its vote.

“I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!” he wrote.

Hundreds of protesters against Kavanaugh gathered on the grounds of the Capitol and at the Supreme Court. A total of 164 people were arrested in the protests, U.S. Capitol Police said.

A townhouse near the Washington residence of Republican Senator Susan Collins, whose backing for Kavanaugh helped get him over the line on Saturday, flew the flag of her home state Maine upside down in protest.

The confirmation allows Trump to hit the campaign trail ahead of the congressional elections saying that he has kept his 2016 promise to mold a more conservative American judiciary.

Democrats said Kavanaugh’s partisan defense of himself, in which he said he was victim of a “political hit,” was enough itself to disqualify him from the court.

Repeatedly during the Senate debate, Republicans accused Democrats of staging a “smear” campaign against Kavanaugh to prevent a conservative becoming a Supreme Court justice.

The accusations against Kavanaugh energized the #MeToo social media movement that emerged after high-profile accusations of sexual assault and harassment by men in politics, the media and the entertainment industry.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation gives conservatives a solid 5-4 majority in any future legal battles on contentious issues such as abortion rights, immigration, transgender rights, industry regulation, and presidential powers.

The dispute over Kavanaugh has added fuel to campaigning for the elections in November when Democrats will try to take control of Congress from the Republicans.

Several polls show that Republican enthusiasm about voting, which had lagged behind, jumped after the Kavanaugh hearing last week.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters that the political brawl over Kavanaugh will help Republicans at the elections.

“Nothing unifies Republicans like a court fight,” McConnell said in an interview ahead of the vote. “It’s been a seminal event leading into the fall election.”

But Democrats hope women angered at the Kavanaugh accusations will turn out in large numbers to vote out Republicans.

During Saturday’s vote, senators were showered with cries of “We will not forget,” and “Survivors vote” from protesters in the Senate gallery.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker, Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Kavanaugh heads toward final Senate vote for Supreme Court post

U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh is seated before his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

By Richard Cowan and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh took a step on Friday toward joining the Supreme Court when the U.S. Senate approved him in a preliminary vote, despite accusations of sexual misconduct against the judge.

After a bitter partisan fight that gripped the country, lawmakers backed Kavanaugh by 51 to 49 in a procedural vote that moved the Republican-controlled Senate toward a definitive decision on whether to confirm him.

The full confirmation vote could take place as early as Saturday.

Given the result of Friday’s vote, federal appeals court judge Kavanaugh looked on track to get the lifetime job on the Supreme Court. But a change of heart by some lawmakers in the final vote would mean his confirmation could still be derailed.

Confirmation would hand Trump a clear victory and tip the balance on the court to a 5-4 majority in favor of conservatives in possible legal battles ahead over contentious issues such as abortion rights, immigration, and Trump’s attempt to ban transgender people from the U.S. military.

The Kavanaugh fight has riveted Americans just weeks before Nov. 6 elections in which Democrats are trying to take control of Congress from the Republicans.

What was already a sharply partisan battle became an intense political drama when university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school in Maryland in 1982. Two other women also made accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the 1980s.

He denied the allegations.

Kavanaugh’s fate might still be in the hands of a few key

senators in a chamber where Republicans hold only a razor-thin majority.

One of them, Republican Susan Collins, voted in favor of advancing the process on Friday, but said she would announce later in the day whether she would support Kavanaugh in the final vote still ahead.

Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Jeff Flake voted to advance Kavanaugh, but neither has stated his position on a final vote.

Further complicating matters for the Republican leadership, Senator Steve Daines was set to be at his daughter’s wedding on Saturday and has said he will not miss the ceremony. That may require a delay in the final vote.

FLASHPOINT

Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was broadcast live on television last Thursday and captured the attention of millions watching.

In an angry rebuttal later that day, Kavanaugh said the accusations were part of a “political hit” by Democrats.

His nomination became a flashpoint in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. Trump mocked Ford on Tuesday during a political rally in Mississippi, further angering Democrats and women campaigning for an end to sexual violence.

Trump, himself accused by numerous women during the 2016 presidential election of sexual misconduct, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that an FBI report showed that the allegations against Kavanaugh were “totally uncorroborated.”

The FBI sent Congress documents detailing additional interviews about Kavanaugh that the agency conducted at the request of some Republican and Democratic senators.

While the documents have not been made public, Republicans said they did not back up sexual assault allegations by Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California.

Similarly, Republicans said the FBI found nobody to support assault claims by Deborah Ramirez, who was a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University in the 1980s.

Democrats called the FBI report a whitewash and said the White House placed constraints on the FBI, which did not speak to many potential witnesses.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by David Morgan, Ginger Gibson, David Alexander, Lisa Lambert and Kevin Drawbaugh; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Ford urges 2,900 pickup owners to stop driving after new Takata death

A recalled Takata airbag inflator is shown in Miami, Florida in this June 25, 2015 file photo.

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it had confirmed a second death in an older pickup truck caused by a defective airbag inflator of Takata Corp and urged 2,900 owners in North America to stop driving immediately until they can get replacement parts.

The second largest U.S. automaker said it confirmed in late December that a July 2017 crash death in West Virginia in a 2006 Ford Ranger was caused by a defective Takata inflator. It previously reported a similar death in South Carolina that occurred in December 2015.

Ford said both Takata deaths occurred with inflators built on the same day installed in 2006 Ranger pickups. At least 21 deaths worldwide are linked to the Takata inflators that can rupture and send deadly metal fragments inside vehicles. The faulty inflators have led to the largest automotive recall in history. The other 19 deaths have occurred in Honda Motor Co vehicles, most of which were in the United States.

Ford issued a new recall for automobiles that had been previously recalled in 2016.

Of the 391,000-plus 2004-2006 Ranger vehicles recalled at the time, the new recall announced on Thursday affects 2,900 vehicles. These include 2,700 in the United States and nearly 200 in Canada. The new recall will allow for identification of the 2,900 owners in the highest risk pool.

A Mazda Motor Corp spokeswoman said on Thursday the company would conduct a similar recall and stop-drive warning for some 2006 Mazda B-Series trucks, which were built by Ford and are similar to the Ranger.

Japanese auto supplier Takata plans to sell its viable operations to Key Safety Systems, an affiliate of China’s Ningo Joyson Electric Corp, for $1.6 billion.

A Takata spokesman said the company will make all attempts to ensure it can deliver replacement inflators as soon as possible.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged owners to heed Ford’s warning. “It is extremely important that all high-risk air bags are tracked down and replaced immediately,” NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana said.

‘FAILED RECALL’

Ford said it would pay to have vehicles towed to dealerships or send mobile repair teams to owners’ homes and provide free loaner vehicles if needed.

Takata said in June that it has recalled, or expected to recall, about 125 million vehicles worldwide by 2019, including more than 60 million in the United States. Some 19 automakers worldwide are impacted.

Takata inflators can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks and have injured more than 200. The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June.

In 2017, prosecutors in Detroit charged three former senior Takata executives with falsifying test results to conceal the inflator defect. None have come to the United States to face charges.

Last year, Takata pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was subject to pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties in a U.S. court in connection with the recalls.

Automakers have struggled to get enough replacement parts for the massive recalls. A November NHTSA report said about two-thirds of U.S. vehicles recalled have not yet been repaired.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday the latest death is evidence of “the very definition of a failed recall” pointing to the earlier Ford death in 2015. NHTSA must do more, he said, to make the recall a priority.

In November, NHTSA rejected a petition from Ford to delay recalling 3 million vehicles with potentially defective airbag inflators to conduct additional testing.

In June 2016, NHTSA warned airbag inflators on more than 300,000 unrepaired recalled 2001-2003 model year Honda vehicles showed a substantial risk of rupturing, and urged owners to stop driving them until getting them fixed. NHTSA said they have as high as a 50 percent chance of a rupture in a crash.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Minami Funakoshi in TOKYO; Editing by Diane Craft and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Ford to recall about 1.3 million vehicles in North America

FILE PHOTO: An airplane flies above a Ford logo in Colma, California, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it would recall about 1.3 million vehicles in North America, including certain 2015-17 Ford F-150 and 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks, to add water shields to side door latches. (http://ford.to/2ySvCBJ)

The No.2 U.S. automaker said the safety recall is due to frozen door latch or a bent or kinked actuation cable in the affected vehicles, that may result in a door not opening or closing.

The company said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with the issue but said because of the fault the door may appear closed, increasing the risk of the door opening while driving.

The cost of the recall was estimated to be $267 million and would be reflected in its fourth quarter results, the company said. (http://bit.ly/2yT3EWu)

Ford said it continues to expect full-year adjusted earnings in the range of $1.65 to $1.85‍​ per share.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)

Trump touts Ford investment in three Michigan plants

U.S. President Donald Trump greets Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields as he hosts a meeting with U.S. auto industry CEOs at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Nick Carey and Susan Heavey

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday touted an expected announcement from Ford Motor Co <F.N> about investments and jobs at U.S. plants, saying the automaker would make a major investment in three Michigan facilities.

The company is expected to make an announcement later on Tuesday morning. In January, Ford scrapped plans to build a $1.6 billion car factory in Mexico and instead added 700 jobs in Michigan following Trumps criticism.

A person briefed on the matter said Ford is announcing new investments in existing Michigan plants and some new jobs on Tuesday but it is not clear if these jobs were previously expected.

The move comes at a time when U.S. new car and truck sales are at an all-time high and investors are watching closely for signs of a possible downturn in the highly-cyclical industry.

The planned announcement comes less than two weeks after Trump visited Detroit to promise more auto jobs for Michigan and other Midwestern U.S. states.

At times Trump has promoted job announcements at the White House that had been previously planned or announced. Last week he praised an investment decision by Charter Communications Inc <CHTR.O> that the company announced before he was elected.

Ford will announce investments at its Michigan plants in Wayne, Flat Rock and Romeo, the Detroit News reported, citing three sources familiar with the plans. The newspaper said it was unclear how many jobs Ford would create or the amount it would invest.

Last week, Ford said it expected higher investments, as well as other spending, to weigh on 2017 earnings.

U.S. sales of new cars and trucks hit a record high of 17.55 million units in 2016. On Friday, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive maintained their 2017 sales forecast of 17.6 million vehicles, an increase of 0.2 percent from 2016.

But they said automakers’ incentive spending in the United States in the first half of March had hit a record for the month, breaking the previously set mark in March 2009 during the height of the Great Recession.

On Monday, Moody’s Investors service said it expected U.S. new vehicle sales to dip in 2017 and warned of a “significant credit risk” for auto lenders as competition for loans intensifies.

Trump has focused on U.S. automotive jobs, meeting with company executives as well as pressuring – and praising – them on Twitter. Executives have also said they hope his administration will pursue tax and regulatory policies that would benefit U.S. manufacturers.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr)