Detroit — Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.'s chief operating officer, said it's too soon to tell when North America production will reach pre-coronavirus levels after the auto maker resumes work in plants next week, but the time frame will largely be determined by the supply chain.
"One of the most important enablers for us to get to full production as soon as possible, obviously, will be the safety of our team members but also the supply base," Farley said in response to a question at its annual shareholders meeting. "All of our production manufacturing operations rely on healthy suppliers and their ability to start up is really critical."
A number of suppliers came back online the week of May 11 in preparation for a May 18 restart date at most Detroit 3 plants in the U.S.
Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and international markets group, told Automotive News he was confident it would have enough parts to resume limited production next week.
"We've done very thorough planning to make sure the entire system ramps up the next few days for us to get going on the 18th," Galhotra said. "There's a very smart team of people working very diligently, long hours, to make sure we get that done."
Farley on May 14 said Ford shared its return-to-work playbook with suppliers, many of whom have developed their own similar safety practices.
Even after Ford posted dismal first-quarter earnings results and promised more financial pain ahead, Executive Chairman Bill Ford said the company was confident in its plan to weather the coronavirus crisis and emerge stronger. He reiterated promises to continue to invest in its product portfolio.
He also promised to restore the quarterly dividend, suspended earlier this year to conserve cash, "as soon as practical" once the crisis subsides.
"The pandemic is affecting our business, and we know the days ahead will be challenging, but we also know that we've overcome difficult times in the past," he said.
Addressing the auto maker's struggling stock price, Ford said he feels "very good" about the company's plan.
"We've got the right metrics in place," he said. "Look, management's compensation is heavily tied to our stock, so it's in everyone's interest to get our stock price back up."
Since Ford became chairman in 1999, the auto maker's shares are down 91 percent, while the S&P 500 index is up 129 percent, according to Bloomberg.
The meeting, held virtually since 2017, again included a proposal to remove the Ford family's special class of shares. It again failed, although the measure received 35.1 percent of voters' support, up slightly from the 34.3 percent of support it received in 2019.