DETROIT — Plant shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus will result in roughly two-month delays for several of Ford Motor Co.'s highly anticipated vehicle programs, including the redesigned F-150 pickup and new Bronco SUV, but a top executive said the automaker doesn't envision additional postponements.
"Given our inability to work in our 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," Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development and purchasing officer, said Friday in a Bank of America presentation.
Ford on March 18 said it would shutter its North American facilities as the coronavirus spread across the globe. It plans to resume limited production at most plants Monday.
Ford has already delayed public unveilings of the Bronco, Bronco Sport crossover and F-150 this spring.
The Bronco Sport, F-150 and Mustang Mach-E electric crossover are due in showrooms in the second half of 2020. The Bronco is expected to go on sale in early 2021.
Bronco Sport output was originally planned to start July 13 but then was pushed to Sept. 7 because of the coronavirus outbreak. Suppliers have been told production now will begin Aug. 31 at a plant in Mexico.
The vehicles represent popular, high-margin nameplates that Ford hopes are key to a financial turnaround. The Ford F-Series, for example, was the best-selling pickup in Canada for the 54th consecutive year in 2019.
Despite the delays, Thai-Tang said Ford planned no further postponements, even as money gets tight.
"We're not going to do any additional delay to these launches beyond the impact of COVID-19 as a mechanism to conserve cash," he said. "I know that's something some of the other OEMs are doing."
The virus has upended launch plans for a number of automakers.
Ford has said it has enough cash to make it to the end of 2020, even if none of its assembly plants resumed production.
In the case of the Bronco family of vehicles, Ford is betting not only on robust sales — it's targeting 200,000 in 2021 — but also revenue from a large number of accessories. Ford is hoping the Bronco subbrand can do for it what Jeep has done for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
"FCA has nine Jeep products; last time I counted, it accounts for at least half of their revenue and profit, all underpinned by the Wrangler," Thai-Tang said. "We think we have the same brand strength with Bronco and Mustang, and series like Raptor, that we need to really capitalize on. You're seeing the initial us dipping our toes in the water, but we think there's tremendous upside there."