Chip Shortage: Subaru Shutting Down SIA Through April

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
chip shortage subaru shutting down sia through april

Today’s update on the global semiconductor shortage involves Subaru, which recently announced that it would be suspending production at its plant in Indiana. Lafayette’s Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) will be idled through the end of April while the automaker waits for suppliers to catch up. It’s a situation we’ve seen numerous manufacturers forced into this year, with Ford arguably being the most relevant for the North American market.

Those wishing for relief are in for a disappointment, too. Despite earlier assurances that the semiconductor shortage would ease over the summer, the likelihood of the industry’s chip-related hardships now looms larger than ever. Numerous industry groups are speculating that chips will be difficult to come by (especially in Western countries) through the end of the year, with the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) recently predicted that the shortage would actually worsen through 2021 before gradually returning to normal. Obviously, nobody can predict the future, but the present supply chains are in such a sorry state that it would be irresponsible to think they were on the cusp of a much-needed rebound.

Subaru’s announcement came on Tuesday, with the automaker explaining its need to idle SIA for the rest of April. The company estimated the number of vehicles lost at roughly 15,000 units. Based on how things have played out for other manufacturers, Subaru could easily see the shutdown extend into May. Though it’s hoping that won’t be necessary, adding that the recent fire at Japan’s Renesas Electronics played no factor in the decision.

Semiconductor chips have seen a massive uptick in demand over the last few years as increasingly more products require them and often in greater numbers than before. Cars use more of them than ever before but so do a lot of other devices that we’ve decided need to be perpetually connected to the internet. Smart devices are becoming all the rage in people’s homes and the pandemic resulted in a huge buy-up of computers, tablets, and other forms of digital entertainment while everyone has been locked indoors during the pandemic. Meanwhile, lockdowns handicapped just about every supply chain on the planet and setback component manufacturers dramatically.

We can’t even begin to assume when things will return to normal. But we do know that other shortages are about to become a serious problem, with rubber waiting on deck to become the next issue.

[Image: Subaru]

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3 of 10 comments

    My 1975 Riviera runs well on the chips it carries, in this case, Wavy Lays.

    • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Apr 20, 2021

      Ooh, you have one of those fancy new Rivieras! I bet it has all sorts of fancy things that our '64 never had, like power windows and things!

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Apr 20, 2021

    Welcome to the Europe after WWII: shortages of everything and total dependence on US of A. Today the West depends in everything on China.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.