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June 10, 2020 10:30 AM, EDT

Ford Sees Plants Resuming Pre-Virus Production Within Weeks

The Ford Motor Rouge assembly plant stands in Dearborn, Mich., on May 18.The Ford Motor Rouge assembly plant stands in Dearborn, Mich., on May 18. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg News)

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Ford Motor Co. expects its U.S. plants will come all the way back from coronavirus-related shutdowns within the next month, a top executive said.

The factories will be producing at levels they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak by July 6, Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley said June 10 at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference. The manufacturing restart has been smooth, with Ford building about 96% of the volume it was planning for the first three weeks since its facilities came back online.

Ford has forecast a $5 billion loss for this quarter tied to a two-month shutdown of its North American factories and significant volume declines in every region. The automaker expects introductions of models such as the redesigned F-150 pickup and new electric Mustang Mach-E to be delayed by roughly the span of time its plants were down.

“We do have some impact on launch timing because we just couldn’t get in the facilities during the shutdown, but we see no other delays beyond the manufacturing shutdown period,” Farley said.

After resuming U.S. production on May 18, Ford is starting to add overtime work at its F-150 factories to meet strong demand for pickups. It’s also beginning to resume third production shifts, meaning facilities are running virtually around the clock.

Some workers have pushed back against how quickly Ford has ramped back up, saying the company isn’t doing enough to protect staff who are falling ill with COVID-19. Ford has said it’s unaware of any employee contracting the disease inside its plants, but it has postponed calling back salaried workers to offices by at least two months.

Ford shares fell 4% as of 9:58 a.m. in New York on June 10. The stock has dropped 25% this year.

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