By on May 3, 2021

The global shortage of semiconductor chips has really done a number on the industry and it’s just one of several major supplier issues created by our response to the pandemic. Years from now, people will look back and use the benefit of hindsight to come up with the perfect solution to a problem that has since evaporated. But all we can manage in the present is an up-to-date tally on how much product is being lost and wait for better news.

AutoForecast Solutions (AFS) has been keeping tabs on the situation and recently updated its numbers through the week of April 30th. Production schedules in North America are now reportedly 121,000 vehicles shy of where they’re supposed to be. Though we need to pull back and take a gander at what the whole industry was facing ahead of the latest figures to have a more complete understanding of this particularly dire automotive quagmire. 

While North American manufacturers have announced a grand total of 883,000 vehicles that won’t be build due to factory shutdowns, AutoForecast is estimating the real number will be over one million units. European projections are similar, though production facilities have only accounted for 682,000 vehicles lost in an official capacity.

Asia has fared substantially better, likely as a result of it being the source market for most semiconductor chips. China’s automotive sector has claimed it’s only behind by 303,000 cars and, while it’s sometimes unwise to take the region at its word, AFS projections have its shortfall somewhere around 429,000. The rest of Asia has committed itself to building 355,000 fewer automobiles this year, with AFS estimating a total loss of 607,000.

Worse still is the changing industry attitude. While most manufacturers started the year promising that steps will be taken to normalize chip supplies, it doesn’t seem to be happening at the paces promised. Most brands are now warning that shortages could last through Q3, while market analysts have suggested that things might not stabilize until late in 2022.

Automotive News, shared a breakdown of the latest cuts reported by AutoForecast Solutions. Despite Ford receiving most of the publicity around chip-related production shortfalls, it was actually General Motors that took the biggest hit in the last round of cuts. Of the 121,000 new vehicles we learned were lost in North America last week, 79,600 belonged to GM.

We covered it, but here’s a refresher from AN:

They included 17,000 Chevrolet Equinox compact crossovers (Ingersoll, Ont.) and 24,100 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedans and Cadillac XT4 premium crossovers (Fairfax, Kan.). More than 12,700 vehicles were deleted from production plans at Lansing, Mich., including Chevrolet Camaro convertibles, Camaro coupes, and Cadillac CT4 and CT5 luxury vehicles.

Ford cut 5,500 Bronco Sport crossovers at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. Ford reported during its Q1 earnings call last week that it could lose 50 percent of its planned second-quarter production because of the chip shortage.

There’s nothing to suggest these types of notices will abate any time soon. Chip demand is far too high and businesses with access are currently hoarding them to maintain an advantage. Meanwhile, there are new shortages looming in the distance that could further hamper the automotive sector. Global production losses are nearing 2.3 million units, with AFS estimating 3.36 million vehicles could be affected when everything is said and done.

[Image: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock]

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25 Comments on “Semiconductor Shortage By the Numbers, Looks Bad...”

  • avatar

    I think the all time high in the past decade was 16m units in USDM, so that’s around 7% not produced. For contrast, mid 2008-2009 production was close to half of 2007 and continued to 2010 but by 2012 was back to around 12m units. So here’s the $64,000 question, does this trend *accelerate* up to the 2024 election or is it just a minor blip that’s forgotten in 18 months?

    You make the call!

  • avatar

    Why is GM wasting even a single chip on Malibu sedans?

  • avatar

    New inventories are low, new incentives are low (at least on the vehicles I’ve looked into), what is being built is from an often insecure/rotating workforce with supply issues, and used prices are through the roof.

    Seems like a good time to take care of what you have and sit tight if you can.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    So keep your old car longer. Cars are evolving too fast right now anyway.

    Maybe in another 10 or 20 years, they will figure how to fit the infotainment screen into the dash.

    • 0 avatar

      Precisely why I went the Restomod route with my existing vehicles. New vehicles are overtly encumbered with electronics to the point where any disruption in the chip supply can bring any production/repair efforts to a grinding halt.

      And if this is having such an effect on ICE vehicles, that effect multiplies in the case of hybrids and EVs.

    • 0 avatar

      You might want to keep your old car longer for other reasons. A web site noted that Customs and Border Protection has acquired tech that can read a huge quantity of data from your car’s electronics.

      It seems all that infotainment in a car is totally unprotected and open with the right tech. There’s actually no reason to have more than the engine CPU operating, all that instrument panel stuff is unnecessary to the operation of the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        Sounds scary, but as with anything else, I think the level of invasiveness here depends on how the data is accessed. If the powers that be need something like a search warrant or court order to access data, then this is really isn’t all that different than, say, getting a court order to pull someone’s phone or bank records.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “While most manufacturers started the year promising that steps will be taken to normalize chip supplies”

    That was an empty promise from the start, since the mfrs have no control over the chip supply.

  • avatar

    I’ve been planning to sell my truck and buy something “fun” but the second part of this plan is proving difficult.
    I also have 2 leased Hondas that are coming due this year. Looking at the “buy it” price they are both no-brainers.
    And looking at the new car lots, they are very empty. I have seen some used cars that look to be just ok deals disappear quickly. God help us if the car market starts acting like the real estate market.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “God help us if the car market starts acting like the real estate market.”

      That won’t happen, unless cars begin appreciating in value as they age.

      The ‘buy it’ price for my lease is pretty good, so if this market chaos continues into the fall I may just buy the thing in November.

      • 0 avatar

        “unless cars begin appreciating in value as they age”

        My Toyota did in fact appreciate despite aging 3 model years and running 20K miles from the *used* MMR valuation I fetched in 2018. Welcome to Clown World.

        • 0 avatar

          My situation is not typical of the average car owner, but at this moment I expect I could sell every vehicle I own for more than I paid for it, in several cases bought brand new and some years ago.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep cars are actually appreciating it’s a bit nuts. Lot’s of talk online of Vroom Carvanna Car max, paying over new MSRP for 1-2 year old cars.

        • 0 avatar

          My 2016 Highlander Hybrid isn’t yet close to its value in 2019 when I bought it, but it’s appreciated $3K in the last three months.

          But it’s worth a lot more to me as a running, driving 6-seat vehicle with a factory trailer hitch and a lot of useful life left than it is as a trade for something else in this crazy market, so no thought of selling.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Around here ( Southern Alberta ), a lot of folks are getting calls from dealers about buying back their recently-purchased Ford trucks – I assume they want them to send South to the U.S. of the A. My F-150 is eleven years old and, as such, not a single phone call.

  • avatar

    Please please please let the chip shortage last so I can order a 2022 Silverado with the improved interior and a 5.3 WITHOUT DFM

    I worked in a chip fab 1997-2003 and when I left, I NEVER thought the industry would be where it is today….

  • avatar

    I have a feeling that China is already started the war against West. Imagine the Western World without computers, phones, toasters and everything else containing chips. And I do not mean potato chips.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      It would be a permanent thing. We are perfectly capable of making those chips. We make them in China because it is cheaper. We’re China to move on Taiwan this would become worse, but again long term we can make chips here just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Not be

      • 0 avatar

        Could we make chips here? Sure.

        Could we start making them this week in the quantities we truly need? This month? Two years from now? That’s not the sort of thing you can just decide to start making on an impulse.

        But it’s the sort of thing we need to start really thinking about in case China ever decides to turn off the tap. In too many situations the Board decided it’d be $0.03 cheaper a unit to just shutter the US operations and have it made in China and shipped over. “What could ever possibly go wrong??”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This would be the time to discontinue the Malibu which is going away in the next few years. Add the Camaro to the list of discontinued. If there not enough chips then just make the vehicles that are more profitable and that sell. GM can always import more cheaper crossovers from China and South Korea. GM doesn’t need to make any more vehicles.

  • avatar

    Dear OEM decision makers,

    Watch the first 22 minutes of Season 2, Episode 10 of The Grand Tour (“Oh, Canada”) for important hints about how to make better vehicles* using fewer chips.

    *Richard Hammond direct quote: “cheaper, lighter, faster and easier”

    • 0 avatar

      @toolguy: I’ll have to check out that episode. I have a take on making vehicles with less chips and I think Tesla is following a similar approach, although maybe not as extreme as I do. Building custom chips can reduce the number of parts you need. I go a step further and rather than Renasys/ARM/QNX I am starting favor open-source RISC V designs along with either FreeRTOS and or bare metal (no os). Both RISC V and Free RTOS can be customized. This gives you more flexibility in sourcing parts. You don’t have to depend on Renasys. It’s even easier to set up your own fab if you want since its an open source design and your not having to go to ARM for a license.

  • avatar

    I know its more complicated than this, but I will LOL if they start walking back those ridiculous infotainment systems and revert to a simpler radio/CD setup with aux jack and USB.

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