In the face of dwindling sales, Ford has shuttered its Flat Rock, Michigan Mustang factory temporarily so that weak demand for the car can catch up to a production excess, Bloomberg reported. It is set to reopen next Monday.
The Mustang became the world’s best-selling sports coupe when it hit global markets last year, selling more than 100,000 units across 140 markets, according to a company press release citing IHS Automotive. So why close the nearly three-decade-old, 400-acre Flat Rock Assembly Plant, maker of the Mustang and the Lincoln Continental, employer of 3,251 people?
In China, Ford sold 2,300 units of the iconic American muscle car so far this year — a 38 percent increase from the same period last year, according to another company press release. And during the Mustang’s debut in Europe last year, it even outsold the German-made Porsche 911.
However, among Americans, the car has seen its popularity decline. A company spokesperson pointed to a disparity between production capacity and domestic demand as a reason for the plant closure, and while the sports car’s sales have been on the rise globally, they’re down 9.3 percent in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, company sales in the U.S. have seen a 32 percent decline.
But lower sales aren’t the only issue for the second-largest American automaker. A week before the plant closure, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration announced its expansion of a probe related to malfunctioning door latches, opening two new investigations into 642,000 Ford vehicles, Reuters reported.
Since 2014, Ford recalled 4 million vehicles for door latch problems, according to Reuters. Among those recalls was the 2015 Mustang.
Though production of the muscle car will halt for a week in Flat Rock, Michigan, the plant’s other product, the Lincoln Continental, will increase, a spokesperson told Bloomberg.
In line with Ford’s mass recalls, its falling sales and the mustang’s diminished allure in its home country, the company’s shares slid below $12.15 on Tuesday, continuing a volatile but generally downward trend.