Ford Motor Company’s reintroduction of the Fiesta small car to the U.S. market has been far from a seamless affair. After months spent setting the stage, including a brilliantly conceived and executed social media campaign, the launch has been plagued by delays and shortages.
Last week the automaker was forced to temporarily suspend shipments of Fiestas from its factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico due to a defective part.
Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields said, “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.” He also said that the quality issue has been resolved and that he does not believe that any defective Fiestas were delivered to consumers.
Although Fields declined to name the defective part that brought shipments to a halt, two people with direct knowledge said it was a seat lever.
A Ford spokesman said the company is checking all Fiestas built over the last month and will only release them to dealers once the necessary repairs have been completed.
The Fiesta, which Ford last marketed in the North America in 1980, represents the first test of the automaker’s new global production strategy in its home market.
Earlier this summer, severe storms in Mexico caused damage to railway lines and disrupted shipments of the vehicles to U.S. dealers. Ford responded by offering Fiesta buyers $50 gift cards and an assurance that it was doing everything possible to expedite their deliveries.
Fields attempted to put a positive spin on the latest delay. “The great news is that we have a product that is in really high demand,” he said.
He was also optimistic about the overall U.S. economy. Speaking to reporters at Ford’s Dearborn Michigan headquarters, he said, “At this point, we don’t see a double-dip recession.”
Commenting on new housing figures, he said it is premature to predict how the weakening housing market might affect Ford or the auto industry as a whole. He also declined to say what measures, if any, Ford would take if the economy continues to slip.
He predicted that domestic light vehicle sales for August will be in the 11 million to 12 million unit range on an annualized basis.
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