By on June 24, 2021

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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23 Comments on “Stellantis Plots More Factory Downtime, Ford Loses Tech Chief...”

  • avatar

    “Ken Washington was hired into Blue Oval after a sting with Lockeed Martin”

    “Stint” I presume?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Jim Buczkowski — who currently directors the company’s electrical R&D division”


      @28: it’s hopeless

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe they did mean “sting” since we’ve had all these stories about workplace drug testing.

    • 0 avatar

      ““Stint” I presume?”

      My understanding is that Ken participated in undercover operation with Lockheed Martin.

      BTW Matt, I am not a Canadian but there is no such organization as Lockeed Martin, at least not in USA. But there is US company known as Lockheed Martin. In any case Reply box editor on my laptop shows Lockeed with red underline which probably confirms my suspicion.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Oddly, this has not resulted in any of them building a competent automobile.”

    Sure, because ex-auto employees only know how to do cars? Why would you even say this?

  • avatar

    Will manufacturers end up scrapping partially built 2021 model cars because of the line shutdowns? Nearly 1,100 1972 Camaros and Firebirds were scrapped after the end of a six-month strike at the GM Norwood plant, because they couldn’t meet upgraded safety and emissions standards for 1973 models. Forty almost-complete cars were completed and donated to high school vocational/technical programs.

  • avatar

    The fewer Stallantii, the better.

  • avatar

    It’s not just semiconductors anymore. The shortages I’ve seen nclude things that have no semiconductor technology. Tools and other metal items are starting to be an issue. I had to scramble twice in the last 2 days to get things I should have had no problem getting.

    • 0 avatar

      Hypothesis: It will continue to get worse. (The quitters are likely more competent than the clingers.)

      @mcs, thought of you the other day. The plastic exhaust deflector on my over-20-year-old BN125A brad nailer finally hardened and broke off. The manufacturer wanted 40 bucks for the assembly which includes the deflector (which would have required disassembling the nailer which I don’t care to get into). Ordered this 3D-printed part for 14 bucks shipped. Better than the original part. [Who knew you could 3D print flexible TPU – not me.]

      • 0 avatar

        @toolguy: I have a proprietary lock ring wrench on the printer now. ABS + carbon fiber. I have the real aluminum version on order, but don’t trust the delivery times and it might be days. If I wanted aluminum, I could scale the print up 2%, then use lost-PLA investment casting for the aluminum part. I’m headed in that direction for custom parts.

        The reason the abs/cf wrench will work is that it’s not solid. there’s a structure underneath giving it the strength. The CF required upgrading to a carbide print nozzle because it would wear down brass in no time. If all else fails, the aluminum version is supposedly going to arrive tomorrow. I’ll believe it when I see it.

        If you want to see some amazing in-house fabrication work by a master, look up “Mike Patey” and his scrappy series on youtube. Just amazing work.

  • avatar

    Can’t wait for to be as slow and clunky as Ford’s infotainment.

    • 0 avatar

      And what you will do when it happens?

    • 0 avatar

      Most of Ford’s infotainment woes in the past were due to them partnering with Microsoft. We all know that Microsoft’s Kernel is rather weak. In this case, I’m going to agree with the fact that it was a big mistake by Ford to use their sh!t.

      • 0 avatar

        “ Most of Ford’s infotainment woes in the past were due to them partnering with Microsoft.”

        It’s a supplier issue!

        You Ford cheerleaders need to stop using this pathetic excuse for all of Fords f-ups. There’s been endless articles written on how Ford knew Sync was not ready for prime time yet went live with it anyway. Meanwhile uconnect has always been seen as one of the absolute best infotainment systems on the market.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          “Meanwhile uconnect has always been seen as one of the absolute best infotainment systems on the market.”

          No doubt. Especially by automotive hackers. Baking a remote code execution vulnerability into a car was a true first! Connecting the infotainment to the internet, not requiring any authentication or verification for the firmware and not segmenting the internet connected systems from the vehicles control system busses…genius!

          I’ve gotten so much work from that one video of the jeep being driven into the ditch remotely though so I’m not complaining!

          It takes real talent to be less secure than the system based on a Microsoft product though so hats off to FCA!

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      On the plus side, I’m not aware of any remote code execution vulnerabilities that give attackers access to the vehicles control systems in any Sync systems as was the case with those in FCA vehicles. If my car is going to end up in a ditch I’d just assume put it there myself thank you.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I hope someone knowledgeable would write a book, on the follies of just-in-time inventory when the supply chains literally span the World and are a complex spaghetti of interlocking routes.

    Like the proverbial house of cards, it only takes a pair of misplaced cards, for the whole “structure” to unravel.

    It is not only manufacturing. With the resurgence of travel, apparently airlines are having a tough time mustering all the hundreds of employees required to schedule each single flight.
    I have an acquaintance at the local (small) airport, and tells me everyone has been working overtime for a full month now.
    The only people exempt from the punishing overtime are the flight crew, and that only because of FAA regulations.

    • 0 avatar

      Just-in-time usually requires your suppliers to be within an hour driving distance. If you have suppliers all over the world, it’s best to account for that with inventory.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    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.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Stellantis downtime is positive news for potential buyers.

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