Stellantis Plots More Factory Downtime, Ford Loses Tech Chief

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

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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  • 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.

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