As the shortage of semiconductor processing chips continues to impact the automotive and technology industries, several leading car makers have been forced to close production lines temporarily.
The crisis has been affecting companies for several months now. It stems from increased demand for personal computers, tablets and smartphones at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which largely diverted supply away from the automotive sector.
Last month, Autocar reported that a number of manufacturers were urgently seeking to overhaul their components supply-chains as a workaround to ensure continued production. Analysis company IHS Markit said at the time that the shortage could cut global production by nearly 700,000 vehicles year-on-year, although the final figure could be even higher.
Ford has reported it could lose half of all planned production in quarter two of 2021, with experts believing the impacts of the shortage could extend into the second half of 2021, or early 2021.
The factory in Turkey that builds the Ford Transit for the European market will be closed from 19 April to 13 June, with the manufacturer bringing forward a planned summer shutdown, according to Automotive News Europe.
The Focus production line in Saarlouis, Germany will be on limited producion for much of next month, while closures of varying length will impact Galaxy, Kuga, Mondeo, S-Max and Transit Connect production until 31 July.
Closures will also impact the Fiesta and Puma production lines in Germany and Romania respectively, although to a much smaller degree.
Having earlier paused production of its hugely popular F-150 pick-up truck in light of the semiconductor shortage, Ford also took the decision to halt operations at several factories across the US for two weeks from 3 May.
According to The Detroit News, the affected sites are responsible for producing the F-150, Transit, Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator for the US, as well as the Mustang for global markets, including Europe and the UK. It’s not clear how visible the impact of restricted Mustang production will be in Europe.
The site quotes an internal Ford memo addressed to employees from manufacturing vice-president John Savona: “Ford’s North American plants continue to be affected by the global semiconductor shortage – along with auto makers and other industries around the world.
“As you build every vehicle you can for our dealers and customers, our teams behind the scenes are working hard to source additional parts.”
Honda announced an operating profit of $1.9 billion (£1.34 billion) for the fiscal fourth quarter, but lost around 100,000 vehicles of output due to the global semiconductor shortage. The company expects further production losses through April to September, but is hoping to recover from Autumn 2021.
The firm delivered a record 184,400 cars in the first three months of 2021, despite shutting down production in Fremont, California for two days in February due to unspecified “parts shortages”.
It is not completely clear how Tesla managed to minimise the impact of the shortage, but Musk recently tweeted: “Thanks Tesla suppliers for providing us with critical parts”, hinting at the establishment of a secure supply line. As reported by Forbes, the company was also likely able to divert limited chip supply to its higher-volume Model 3 and Model Y cars, with all deliveries of the Model S and Model X during the period coming from dealer stock.
The Volkswagen Group is expecting the chip shortage to impact second quarter production more severely than the first. The German car maker is in “crisis mode” over the shortage, Herbert Deiss said.
Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths told the Financial Times: “We are being told from the suppliers and within the Volkswagen Group that we need to face considerable challenges in the second quarter, probably more challenging than the first quarter.”
Precise predictions have not been revealed, but the VW Group previously said it was expecting a production shortfall of 100,000 vehicles this quarter. According to the FT, the company has warned it does not have the necessary production capacity to compensate for the drop later in the year.
Griffiths told the newspaper that production at Seat’s Martorell factory is currently “hand to mouth”, and decisions on which cars to produce are based entirely on supply.