Ford's F-150 Trouble Worsens

Amidst all the delays and price problems, Ford’s F-150 Lightning may have been hit with its worst problem yet. A major investigation by Bloomberg shows that aluminum used to build the electric vehicle (EV) comes from a refinery in Brazil that has sickened a large number of people. The long report is breathtaking. It is detailed enough to sharply undermine Ford’s ESG (environmental, social, governance) standing and begs the question of how Ford could not have been aware of such a glaring problem. (Click here for America’s favorite pickup trucks.)

Ford’s ESG statement is hollow if the Bloomberg report is accurate: “At Ford, we are committed to making progress on the issues that matter in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) areas.” Really?

Much worse than the ESG problem is how Ford’s bumbling management, led by Executive Chair William Clay Ford Jr., could have missed the issue. In the real world of corporate leadership, he would not be the head of any major company. The Ford family controls the public corporation’s voting shares, allowing Bill Ford and two other unqualified Ford family members to have board seats.

Regardless of how Bill Ford came by his job, it puts him in a “buck stops here” position. He has called the F-150 Lightning the most important launch of his tenure. However, the truck’s production has faced battery problems that have brought its assembly line to halt for weeks. Ford says the production will begin soon, but Ford’s record makes the forecast suspect.

Ford’s supply chain problem goes beyond the Brazil catastrophe. Ford has used supply chain problems as a reason to raise the F-150’s price. That also has been used as an excuse for cost overruns. Ford has increased the price on the Lightning enough that it may undermine sales, particularly as consumers decide between the gasoline-powered version of the truck and the new electric model.

Outsiders should be awestruck by the disclosure that Ford does not know where its components are sourced. That should be a basic part of deciding how all its cars and trucks are made. Leave it to Ford to find out the terrible facts from Bloomberg.

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