AUTO

Ford idles key truck factory in Missouri for 1 week

Ford Motor Co. is suspending production of the F-150 pickup and Transit van at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri for one week starting Saturday to help conserve natural gas amid a cold spell in the Midwest.

Ford confirmed the news late Friday after UAW Local 249, which represents workers at the plant, informed employees earlier Friday.

“Due to unseasonably cold temperatures in the midsection of the United States, Ford was warned that the availability of natural gas could be restricted in the Kansas City area in the coming days,” spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement. “To ensure we minimize our use of natural gas that is critical to heat people’s homes, we have decided to cancel operations for the next week. We expect to return to normal operations on Monday, Feb. 22.”

The shutdown comes at an inopportune time as Ford launches a redesigned F-150, the nation’s top-selling vehicle, and continues to feel the negative effects of a global semiconductor shortage. Shifts were cut this week at the Kansas City factory, as well as at another F-150 assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich.

Ford warned this month that it could lose 10 percent to 20 percent of planned first-quarter vehicle production and earnings could fall by $1 billion to $2.5 billion because of tight chip supplies.

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