Financially troubled supplier Collins & Aikman Corp. briefly halted shipments to Ford Motor Co.'s Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant Oct. 13 as part of a long-running pricing dispute.
A one-shift interruption caused Ford to lose about 400 units of its Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ sedans.
The drastic measure followed failed efforts by C&A to get price increases on the instrument panels, carpeting and other interior plastic parts the firm supplies, the newspaper reported.
Collins & Aikman spokesman David Youngman confirmed the shipment interruption but declined to comment on details of the dispute, first reported Oct. 18 in The Wall Street Journal.
Ford spokesman Paul Wood said Ford was ``extremely disappointed'' by the interruption. He was quoted in the newspaper as saying that the action caused irreparable harm to Ford's relationship with C&A.
Wood said Ford agreed to a price increase for C&A even before the weekend interruption.
C&A Chief Executive Officer Frank Macher had a different version. In an Oct. 18 memo to employees, Macher said the company had tried for months to resolve the issue. And Ford only began face-to-face meetings the day of the interruption.
``Although some initial progress was made, it was clearly evident we remained at odds on the major fundamental financial issues,'' Macher said in the memo.
Ford's Wood countered by saying that high-level meetings began in early June and proceeded throughout the summer, including eight meetings in September.
Ford said it is considering a number of actions in response to the shipment interruption, including withholding new business. Wood declined to give details or to say whether Ford intends to sue C&A.
The Hermosillo program is C&A's largest single program. When the Ford contract was announced in 2003, C&A said it would be worth billions of dollars.
Supplier shipment interruptions to automakers are rare and almost never intentional. But financially stressed suppliers are increasingly resorting to brinksmanship to pass through higher costs for raw materials and other costs that they incur.
C&A hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization in early 2007, after shedding its European operations and shutting plants and lines of business, including fabrics.
Youngman said C&A will continue to work with customers, including Ford, to resolve issues that pave the way for it to emerge from Chapter 11.
A smaller C&A posted sales of about $2.8 billion in 2005, compared with $4 billion in 2004.
C&A ranked No. 1 on Plastics News' list of North American injection molders, with estimated$1.5 billion in relevant 2005 sales.