Ford is understandably unhappy after numerous leaks of its Bronco, Bronco Sport and Maverick models ahead of their official reveals. So, the company sent a memo to its suppliers on Monday asking them to stop sharing photos of future models with media outlets, reports Automotive News.
Ford didn’t name the specific models that sparked the memo, but open up any automotive news site online—including
one—and it’s pretty obvious that Ford’s been a leaky ship when it comes to its most-hyped new models. According to the memo, which was shared with Automotive News, “a number of these breaches” came from Ford’s suppliers. Most leaked photos were first published on model-specific forums and websites and then picked up by the wider automotive media.
One of the leaked Maverick images.
The memo emphasized the confidentiality agreements in place between Ford and its suppliers, as quoted by Automotive News:
“We cannot underscore enough the negative impact of these unfortunate actions on our collective business results, and we ask for your support to personally follow the confidentiality guidelines inherent in Ford’s Global Terms & Conditions. Ford has a zero-tolerance policy for leaks emanating from our own team members, and we need all supplier personnel to adopt a similar approach regarding unauthorized disclosures of Ford confidential information.”
Both photographs and video of prototypes before an official public introduction are prohibited in these agreements, Automotive News reports. Ford called out its Tier 1 suppliers in particular as those have to have a “robust leak prevention plan” that both the supplier and its subcontractors must adhere to.
The leaks, Ford argues, negatively affect Ford’s ability to keep a competitive advantage. After all, as soon as Ford’s competitors learn of a future feature, those companies will inevitably start figuring out how to equal or one-up it.
The upcoming Maverick compact pickup has been the subject of numerous leaks lately, including everything from a photo of it on a factory floor to renderings of its tailgate. One Maverick Chat poster who described several details of the to-be-revealed truck even point-blank said that his information was “what I’ve heard from my job at a supplier.”
Ford isn’t mincing words about this issue. The company’s Vice President for Global Commodity Purchasing and Supplier Technical Assistance Jonathan Jennings warned in the memo that Ford could even seek damages over the leaks if they don’t stop, as quoted by Automotive News:
“Because the damage to our organizations can be significant, Ford will treat confirmed supplier security breaches with heightened scrutiny. Suppliers could face business repercussions and even recovery actions for damages tied to leaks caused or enabled by suppliers.”
A Ford spokesman confirmed to Automotive News that the company is “reinforcing to suppliers and partners, as we have to our own employees, the importance of following strict policies and protocols to protect confidential information.”
Ford has had some of the most hotly anticipated new models recently between the Maverick small truck to the revival of the Bronco nameplate. Maybe threatening to switch suppliers or seek damages will help keep things under wraps internally a bit better, but the appetite for more information about upcoming Fords is stronger than ever.
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