The launch of Ford Motor Co.'s new F-series Super Duty pickup is in danger of stalling.
Less than a week after International Truck and Engine Corp. stopped shipping diesel engines, Ford Motor is cutting production of the highly profitable F-250, F-350 and F-450 Super Duty.
Ford is cutting shifts starting Thursday, March 1, at the lone plant in Louisville, Ky., that builds the F-series Super Duty. No production is scheduled for Friday, March 2, and daily shifts will be reduced from three to one starting Monday, March 5, said Ford spokesman Tom Hoyt.
International and Ford are locked in a legal battle over money. Ford sued International on Jan. 11 over warranty costs related to the old 6.0-liter Power Stroke engine that powered the F-series Super Duty truck from 2002 to 2007 and over the price International is charging for the 6.4-liter turbodiesel that replaced it.
Ford launched the 2008 F-series Super Duty this month and is trying to fill 50,000 dealership orders for the big pickup, the most profitable vehicle Ford sells. Although Ford offers the F-250, F-350 and F-450 Super Duty with a gasoline engine, about 75 percent are sold with the hard-working diesel.
Buyers of F-series Super Duty trucks opt for the diesel because it can tow heavier loads and because it gets better fuel economy than the 5.4-liter V-8 or 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engines.
Last year, Ford sold 796,000 F-series pickups, about 25 percent of which were Super Duty models.