The Wall Street Journal reports that Ford expects to be sitting on 40,000 to 45,000 trucks at the end of the third quarter because it doesn't have enough badges to put on them.
The problem might not be related to the supply-chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. Instead, the cause might be a chemical spill in Michigan last month by Tribar, a company that has supplied badges to Ford in the past and needed to limit operations temporarily.
Ford reportedly considered using 3D printing technology to provide short-term replacement badges but didn't think the quality would be good enough.
When someone in Springfield pranked Superintendent Chalmers by removing the hood emblem from his 1979 Honda Accord, he complained, "That's how people know it's a Honda." Good for a laugh on The Simpsons, but it's unlikely that anybody will fail to recognize the bestselling vehicle in the U.S. for decades if it doesn't say "Ford." Still, the automaker is holding back tens of thousands of new F-series pickup trucks because the automaker doesn't have enough badges.
People familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal that the shortage applies to the famous blue oval Ford badges as well as those that identify the model. A Ford spokesperson told the Journal that some vehicle shipments are still happening as planned and that it is retrofitting vehicles that don't have the correct badges before delivering them to dealers. Ford said it expects to have between 40,000 and 45,000 pickups waiting for badges at the end of the third quarter.
Ford reportedly considered 3D printing to make temporary badges but dismissed the idea because it could not guarantee the short-term replacements would look as good. The company declined to comment on the 3D printing proposal to the paper. We have asked Ford for more details about these issues.
Ford, and other automakers, had previously held back shipments of numerous models because of a lack of silicon semiconductor chips, which have been difficult for some automakers to obtain for their products since 2020 because of the pandemic.
But the lack of badges might not be directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Journal noted that one of Ford's badge suppliers is Tribar Technologies. That name likely rings a bell for readers in mid-Michigan, because that's where Tribar "released several thousand gallons of a liquid containing 5 percent hexavalent chromium into the sewer system" in August, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Hexavalent chromium is a form of the metallic element chromium and has been shown to "cause a number of adverse health effects through ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation," the MDEGLE said.
As part of the chemical cleanup, Tribar was forced to "limit operations" in August, the Journal said. This might have caused a drop in the supply of new badges. Both Ford and Tribar confirmed their badge-supplying relationship, but neither would talk to the paper about the current situation.
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