Ford resumes Fiesta shipments after parts glitch

By Reuters
Posted Aug. 25, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.

Ford Motor Co. has resumed shipments of the Fiesta after temporarily halting them over a faulty part.

Ford has identified and fixed the part in Fiesta, Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields said Wednesday.  The delay compounded an inventory shortage for the new small car and further complicating a key vehicle introduction.

Fields said Ford has resumed shipping the Fiesta to U.S. dealers and does not believe that any of the vehicles with potential defects had been sold to consumers.

Fields declined to name the part, but two people with direct knowledge of the stop-shipment order said that it was a seat lever.

“In our normal approach, which is to make sure that we have really robust processes and normal quality operating procedure at the plant, we did find a part quality issue,” Fields told reporters. “We’ve addressed it.”

A spokesman said Ford is checking several thousand Fiestas built in the last month before they will be released to dealers for sale to customers.

The car represents the first test of Ford’s global vehicle production strategy in its home market and the automaker’s push back into a segment of the U.S. market long dominated by Japanese automakers.

The Fiesta, which is being built in Mexico, is targeted at younger consumers and has been marketed through social media to reach drivers who had not been looking at Ford vehicles. Ford also has been training dealers accustomed to selling pickups and SUVs to sell the Fiesta.

“The reception by consumers has really been encouraging,” Fields said of Fiesta U.S. sales so far.

Ford started North American production of the Fiesta in mid-May and has reported U.S. sales totaling 4,400 through July.

The unusual stop-shipment order is the latest difficulty for the long-anticipated Fiesta launch. Earlier in the summer, storms damaged railroad tracks north of the plant in Mexico where the Fiesta is built, delaying shipments.

Last month, Ford apologized to consumers still waiting to take delivery of Fiestas and offered them $50 gift cards, while acknowledging that shipments were weeks behind schedule.

The stop-shipment order is the first acknowledgment by Ford of a distribution issue on Fiesta not related to the storms.

Ford is working through the delayed shipments to dealers “slowly but surely,” Fields said, adding that the bulk of the delays have been caused by the storms.

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