Chip Shortage Encourages Nissan to Idle U.S. Facilities Again

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Rumor has it that the semiconductor shortage is going to be leaving Nissan facilities operating in North America to contend with a difficult summer. This issue appears to have been largely unavoidable but it’s hardly the position a manufacturer hoping to launch a comeback tour wanted to find itself occupying.

But, before we make this look like some failing on the part of Nissan, let’s take a look down memory lane to see some of the other companies that were negatively impacted by the chip shortage this year.

By May, over 10,000 General Motors employees had to endure additional time off at facilities across the Americas — impacting targeted volumes on a wide range of models (including those from Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac). Ford was required to suspend production of its best-selling F-Series, building many without all the necessary hardware. It also had to tamp town production on some of its better models (e.g. Mustang, Transit, Explorer) with the Lincoln brand also enduring a production slump. Meanwhile, Stellantis was experiencing hardships with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.

Volkswagen Group had to commit to extended periods of downtime for facilities in Europe producing the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. The Audi Q7 and Q8 were similarly affected. During the same period, Mercedes-Benz announced it would be slowing assembly routines on the GLC crossover and the all-electric EQC. BMW Group was facing similar problems with its smaller crossover vehicles and the Mini Cooper, while Jaguar struggled with

Subaru was having issues at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana, resulting in production stops for the Ascent, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback. Hyundai Motor Group also found itself running into trouble after looking like it had its supply chains in order. While other Asian automakers have confessed to being hampered by the chip shortage as well, none of them seemed to have been suffering quite as badly — save for Nissan.

After indicating (in March) that it would need to scale back on assembly of the Leaf, Maxima, Murano, and Rogue at its facility in Smyrna, Tennessee, Nissan stated it would also need to start cutting back in Kyushu, Japan. The Altima also saw the brakes temporarily placed on production. But, like many of the automakers above, the issue has yet to resolve itself.

According to Automotive News, Nissan plans to idle its Smyrna factory another four weeks after the two-week shutdown scheduled at the end of June. An additional couple of weeks off will similarly be given to the Altima sedan built in Canton, Mississippi.

From AN:

The chip shortage is complicating a product overhaul central to Nissan’s efforts to revive consumer interest and profitability in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker’s U.S. plants are preparing to introduce three key redesigned models: the Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 crossovers and the Nissan Frontier midsize pickup.

Nissan is prioritizing new launches and high-volume models such as the Sentra, Rogue and Kicks for the limited supply of microchips. In May, Automotive News reported Infiniti would halt QX50 assembly for June to conserve chips for QX60 production, which begins in summer.

Michael Colleran, Nissan brand’s U.S. sales and marketing boss, referred to parts allocation as akin to solving a Rubik’s Cube.

At the start of June, AutoForecast Solutions estimated that 25 individual models had been impacted by the chip shortage to an extent that the manufacture had to cull their production targets by at least 10,000 units. Ford’s F-150 was likely to have been hit the hardest with a minimum of 100,000 vehicles impacted, though it should be said that U.S. domestic brands are faring the worst as a group. All told, the shortage is estimated to put a $100-billion dent (minimum) into industry revenue for 2021.

[Image: Memory Stockphoto/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Slavuta Slavuta on Jun 15, 2021

    Hopefully, chip shortage will lead to more manual transmissions and analog gauges

    • See 1 previous
    • Luke42 Luke42 on Jun 16, 2021

      I work for a company which uses consumer electronics in our products and, no, we're not taking the electronics out. We are scrambling to substitute the parts we can get for parts we can't, which will take some engineering effort on our part. I don't see why the automotive guys would be any different. Electronics simplify our product and make it work, because mechanical != simple. Those crappy cars in the 1970s were doing things which required a computer with pneumatic/hydraulic/mechanical control systems. At some point, it's better to just do the math in software to remove mechanical complexity. One of my favorite examples of this kind of simplicity is to compare the Prius's eCVT transaxle to a regular 5-speed auto -- the Prius is much simpler, and just as reliable. We're not going back to those bad-old-days any time soon, we're just changing the BOM a bit to reflect current market conditions.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 16, 2021

    The chip shortage will save any potential buyers from making a bad purchase.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.