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Ford Is Launching a De Facto Take Over of The Webasto Plant In Plymouth, Mi

Ford Is Launching a De Facto Take Over of The Webasto Plant In Plymouth, Mi

As you probably know, the biggest concern among major car manufacturers has been a widespread computer chip shortage-- it has been the talk of the industry throughout 2021.

Almost all of the manufacturers have seen a rise in demand for their product line, yet at the same time can't produce these vehicles due to the lack of semiconductor chips required for their completion. We've already covered this topic, but for Ford, there has been another lingering problem that hasn't been as publicized as the chip situation. Unfortunately, the modern-day Bronco saga has been filled with production delays and issues -- almost all of them beyond Ford’s control.

We all know that Ford did a tremendous job designing, engineering, and marketing the new Bronco, which resulted in enormous hype and demand. But now, it's time to deliver on the promise and start producing and completing these highly anticipated and legendary SUVs.

The latest problem that Ford is facing isn't chip-related, and it takes us back to 2020. If you recall, the first production delay of the new-gen Bronco was connected to the hardtop manufacturer Webasto which had problems with plastic roofs. The most direct reason generally cited for that delay was an overall materials shortage due to the whole COVID-19 situation. In reality, the real causation stemmed from quality problems -- Ford just wasn’t satisfied with Webasto's finished products.

Unofficially, the rumor is that Webasto roofs were prone to bending, which lead to leaking, and that's something that Ford simply could not tolerate.


At the same time, the demand for hardtop options, on both the two and four-door Bronco, surprised both Ford and Webasto, and both companies have come to realize that the production capacity of Webasto’s Plymouth, Michigan plant will be insufficient to meet this demand in a timely fashion.

The German company opened the plant in 2019, concentrating on scale production for major manufacturers, including Ford.

While there aren't many available details, we do know that Ford sent its team of engineers and production strategists to Plymouth to address the several problems pertaining to these plastic hardtops. In the last six weeks, dozens of Ford’s workers were sent to the Webasto plant in a significant push to meet production goals and salvage the 2021 Bronco model year.

Apparently, Webasto itself was unable to address all these issues on its own, so Ford needed to jump in, not just with engineers but also with substantial funding. In a recent Ford memo, it was revealed that millions of dollars will ultimately be  required in order to resolve these supply chain issues.

The good news is that these quality problems have been sorted and the assembly lines are slowly entering full-scale production. However, the bad news is that this will not happen overnight and Ford’s people are also addressing issues regarding assembly and management problems while re-organizing the factory altogether. At the moment, things are looking promising, but it's too early to expect Ford to make any official statement.

Needless to say, Ford is not happy with the Webasto situation, and it looks like the company is going so far as to consider vacating its contract and even initiating a high-profile lawsuit, which will definitely cripple Bronco production efforts in the near future.

Ford has wisely chosen to invest time, money, and human capital to put this saga to an end -- hopefully -- and add the last piece to the Bronco puzzle in order to get on with its plans. The plastic roof is an essential part of the Bronco’s appeal, so it's easy to see why Ford is so eager to resolve this problem.

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Bill Kain - October 18, 2021

I have not taken time to see who manages or owns this website. The tone of this article making Ford out to look like a victim to Webasto makes me think there is a relationship between this site and Ford.
The article appears to try and exonerate Ford from doing a terrible job of due diligence. My guess is the money people involved with the Bronco were too blinded by the low cost of the roofs and they didn’t remember the age old saying “you get what you pay for”.
I can somewhat understand Webasto’s surprise at the demand for the MIC tops. I definitely cannot understand how Ford could have been surprised by it. This vehicle has been in design and market studies heavily for 5 years. Not to mention that planning began way back in 2012. Ford has mislead their Bronco customers at every turn, stating in customer emails that they were adding on suppliers to meet the demand. The reservation process used by Ford for their historic “Launch” is a direct infringement of the Dealer Franchise Agreement. To add insult to injury they have left the dealer with no plans or information with which to assuage a customer base that continues to become more aggressive in their communications with the dealers selected for their Bronco order.
This weekend Ford sent out yet another disingenuous email directly to the customer filled with half truths and suggesting that the customer contact their dealer " and see how they might be able to help with any vehicle needs, making the wait for your Bronco a little more bearable." Not sure how Ford wants dealers to help with vehicle needs when this particular dealer is experiencing a 98% reduction of stock inventory.
Ford needs to come clean with everyone.

Bob B - October 18, 2021

Informative article – it would be great if you could update it with the most current events:
-Is Webasto capable of making a quality product and how did Webasto get so far down the road with with a plastic roof that bends and has other visual flaws (one would think if Jeep has been making removable roofs that it can be done).
-What’s the solution? Will the composition of the plastic need to change? Lots of information and pics about defects but why are they happening?
-Ford will not offer the Bronco 2-door with a soft top (you have to order it with the MIC hardtop). Nobody has ever explained why. That would be a temporary solution for Ford, but one that seems to be a secret.
-Last but not least – what is the origin of the odd gray color in the MIC roof? Was this an intentional request by Ford or the only color Webasto could produce with their questionable plastics? Most would agree that the color black would be preferable as it would then match the flares, door handles, etc.

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