Michigan - Ford Motor Co temporarily halted shipments of Fiestas from its Mexico factory in the past week due to a faulty part, compounding an inventory shortage for the new small car and further complicating a key vehicle introduction.

Shipments of the Fiesta were halted because of a quality issue with a single part that Ford has identified and fixed, Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields said on Wednesday.

Fields said Ford has resumed shipping the Fiesta to U.S. dealers and does not believe that any of the vehicles with potential defects had been sold to consumers.

A spokesman said Ford is checking several thousand Fiestas built over the past month before they will be released to dealers for sale to customers.

The car represents the first test of Ford's global vehicle production strategy in its home market and the automaker's push back into a segment of the U.S. market long dominated by Japanese automakers.

The unusual stop-shipment order is the latest difficulty for the long-anticipated Fiesta launch. Earlier in the summer, storms damaged railroad tracks north of the plant in Mexico where the Fiesta is built, delaying shipments.

Last month, Ford apologized to consumers still waiting to take delivery of Fiestas and offered them $50 gift cards, while acknowledging that shipments were weeks behind schedule.

The great news is that we have a product that is in really high demand, Fields told reporters.

Fields declined to name the part at issue, but two people with direct knowledge of the stop-shipment order said that it was a seat lever.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)