Ford Motor Co. is considering the Baltimore metro area as it scouts the mid-Atlantic for a site for a new parts-distribution warehouse.
The nation's No. 2 automaker is searching for sites as part of a plan to double its parts warehouses nationwide.
A company spokesman confirmed that Ford is looking at sites in Harford County but would not specify what properties. Nor would he list the competing mid-Atlantic areas.
"We're doing this over a number of years," said Todd Nissen, the spokesman. "This facility will open in 2004, so we'll know sometime between now and 2004. ... We're not ready to commit."
The parts depot, which will supply about 30,000 parts to Ford dealerships, could bring about 60 jobs.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based company is looking to renovate 10 depots and add 11 more. Ford expects the new locations to reduce the time it takes dealers to get needed parts.
Dealers will be able to order and receive parts every day, instead of the once-a-week standard under the previous system.
Ford recently announced that two of the depots would be in Davenport, Fla., and Mebane, N.C. Both are to open next year. New or improved facilities recently opened or about to open are in Memphis, Tenn.; Sacramento and Ontario, Calif.; Fort Worth, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Houston; Denver; and Phoenix.
"There is no question that this new network will provide the most efficient and cost-effective parts delivery to our dealers throughout the country," Don Johnson, Ford's director of global parts supply and logistics, said in a statement announcing some of the new depots.
Only about a dozen buildings in the metro area are available that could accommodate a parts depot. The Florida and North Carolina facilities are both to be more than 220,000 square feet.
In Harford County, about 10 percent of the industrial space is available for lease, according to CoStar Group, a real estate information provider.
Real estate brokers representing most of the available buildings declined to comment about Ford or could not be reached. State economic development officials said they had not been in contact with Ford.
Charlie Martin, the parts manager at Plaza Ford in Bel Air, said he would welcome a nearby depot.
"I don't have any trouble getting parts because I get them from other dealerships," he said. "But it would save me money if I could buy them directly from Ford."