Stellantis Plots More Factory Downtime, Ford Loses Tech Chief

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
stellantis plots more factory downtime ford loses tech chief

Stellantis plans to extend the typical summer downtime at a couple assembly plants while relaunching production at Windsor Assembly next month. The Canadian van factory will be see two shifts returning on July 5th, while its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico will be idled due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. This has become a common tactic within the automotive industry, with our doubting it’ll be the last occasion we’ll be reporting on extended summer vacations.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. appears to have lost its technology chief to Amazon. Ken Washington was hired into Blue Oval after a stint with Lockeed Martin in 2014 and will be leaving the automaker next month to become vice president of software engineering for the tech giant.

Ford confirmed that Washington was leaving its ranks on Thursday. He will be replaced by Henry Ford Technical Fellow Jim Buczkowski — who currently directors the company’s electrical R&D division. However the automaker stated that this is to be a temporary position while it seeks a replacement chief technology officer, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Automakers losing people to tech firms is nothing new. But there are worries that the trend is creating a brain drain within the automotive sector. Despite the industry having incredibly deep pockets, they’re nothing compared to the almost bottomless wealth processed by tech giants and their many investors. Oddly, this has not resulted in any of them building a competent automobile.

Getting back to the factory news, Stellantis’ rolling shutdowns means Belvidere is going down yet again. The facility has been repeatedly idled through 2021 and it’s currently unclear how long the summer shutdown will last. But that’s been the blueprint for several global automakers who stated they needed to reassess production schedules before committing to any dates.

In this instance, Stellantis will be losing planned volumes on the Jeep Cherokee and Compass. The company confirmed it was a supply chain issue and said that it was actively working with suppliers to resolve things. Sadly, with the whole of the industry confronting similar problems, there’s only so much it can do at this stage.

[Image: Stellantis]

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2 of 23 comments
  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Jun 25, 2021

    The 'pandemic' has demonstrated the weaknesses inherent in a global supply chain. Previously some of us had hoped that fuel/energy costs would have made long distance manufacturing and shipping more expensive. Then there are those who advocated for tariffs. Which I am not personally against. Technological advances mean that labour intensive manufacturing is unlikely to return to the USA/Canada. However I do fervently hope that we can strengthen and expand our 'local' manufacturing capabilities and end our dependence on off shore manufacturing. Heck even hockey sticks are now imported.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 27, 2021

    Stellantis downtime is positive news for potential buyers.

  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?
  • Master Baiter As I approach retirement, and watch my IRA and 401K account balances dwindle, I have less and less interest in $150K vehicles.
  • Azfelix With a name that sounds like a bad Google translation, problems appear to permeate every aspect of the company. I suggest a more aggressive advertising campaign during The Super Terrific Happy Hour show to turn things around.
  • Buickman GoneFast.