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Ford halts F-series, Super Duty production after fire at supplier

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A 2018 Ford F-150 "King Ranch" pickup truck is displayed during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 10, 2017.

[DETROIT] Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it has halted production of some of its most profitable vehicles, the F-150 and Super Duty full-size pickup trucks, at two US factories after a fire at a supplier plant that produces parts for the trucks.

Production of F-150 pickups at a third Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, could be idled Wednesday or Thursday, people familiar with the situation said.

It was not clear how long the production disruptions will last and Ford did not specify what parts were affected in the pickup trucks. A Ford spokeswoman said on Wednesday the automaker is working closely with the supplier to get production restarted.

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A fire last week at the plant in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, operated by Meridian Lightweight Technologies disrupted production of parts used in the Ford trucks.

Production of the Super Duty at Ford's Kentucky truck plant will run "day to day," based on the availability of parts, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. Super Duty production was halted on Wednesday.

The F-150 is the top-selling model in the United States, and the Super Duty is one of the automaker's most profitable vehicles. A two-week production halt for the F-150 could slice as much as US$310 million from Ford's second-quarter profits, Buck Research analyst Joseph Amaturo wrote in a note Wednesday.

Ford could make up some of the lost production later in the year by running overtime.

It was not clear whether other automakers could face production shutdowns because of the damage at the Meridian plant.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said on Wednesday the fire has affected production of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in Windsor, Ontario, adding it is "adjusting production schedules as needed to minimize plant downtime (and) will make up any lost production."

Meridian, owned by Chinese supplier Wanfeng Auto Holding Group, also provides parts to General Motors Co , BMW AG and Tesla Inc among others, according to the websites of Meridian and Wanfeng.

GM, BMW and Tesla did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Meridian, which makes aluminum and magnesium structural components at four plants in North America, could not be reached immediately for comment.

REUTERS