Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Ford closes plants to use new tires as replacements

The Associated Press

        DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. will stop production at three truck plants for at least nine days so it can take 70,000 tires intended for new vehicles and use them as replacements for the Firestones being recalled.

        The plants, in Minnesota, New Jersey and Missouri, will close from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8 so that 15-inch tires used in production of Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles and Ford Ranger pickups will be diverted to Ford and Lincoln/Mercury dealers. The plants employ about 6,000 workers.

        Ford CEO Jac Nasser was to explain the announcement in a TV ad Monday night during ABC's Monday Night Football.

        “You have my personal guarantee that all of the resources of Ford Motor Company are being directed to resolve this situation,” Mr. Nasser says in the ad.

        Bridgestone/Firestone has recalled P235/75R15 ATX and ATX II tires, and Wilderness AT tires in the same size made at a plant in Decatur, Ill.

        The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 62 deaths and more than 100 injuries that could be linked to the Firestone tires under recall.

        Martin Inglis, vice president for Ford North America, said the plant shutdown would cut about 25,000 vehicles from Ford's production — 10,000 Rangers and 15,000 Explorers/Mountaineers.

        Not all of those vehicles would have received tires that can be used as replacements for the tires under the recall, but Mr. Inglis said there was no way to schedule production without them.

        Mr. Inglis also said the move would affect Ford's earnings, but declined to say by how much.


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