Subaru Getting Super Screwed By Semiconductor Shortage

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
subaru getting super screwed by semiconductor shortage

The global semiconductor shortage has been particularly hard on Western automakers, though it’s not been peaches and cream for Asian brands. Following news that Nissan had run into issues resulting in additional downtime this summer, we’ve learned that Subaru is currently operating with a scant, nine-day supply of product and will be required to conduct more plant closures due to a lack of chips.

Having already stalled its Yajima plant on multiple occasions, as well enacting work stoppages at Subaru of Indiana Automotive (its U.S. facility), this is hardly where the brand wanted to find itself going into the warmer months. On Friday, Subaru announced it would be idling two plants in Japan’s Gunma prefecture this July.

That means Yajima is going down for a third time on July 16th, along with the repurposed Ōta facility that used to build kei cars for the Asian market. Ōta is now responsible for BRZ/Toyota 86, while Yajima handles basically every other passenger vehicle the company makes. Subaru has not confirmed how long the idle period would last, though identified the problem as a supply issue pertaining to semiconductor chips.

The good news is that this doesn’t appear to have impacted other factories, with its engine/transmission facility and commercial vehicle plant both remaining active (for now). Still, it was looking at an incredibly thin nine-day supply of vehicles at the end of May and appears to be going into the summer production schedule in less than stellar shape. It might soon become incredibly difficult to find a new Subaru, let alone one configured to your tastes.

The company said it would need to revise production estimates due to the supply issue, according to Reuters. Part of that will undoubtedly be deciding which markets receive preferential treatment. The Gunma plants export globally and it’s unlikely that every nation is going to see their usual allotment of cars. Some regions might see massive shortfalls to be made up later, though it’s likely impossible that any singular market will avoid the associated pricing increases.

That problem is hardly unique to Subaru or the automotive industry in general, however.

[Image: Subaru]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 21, 2021

    Everyone seems to keep forgetfing that a fire shut down the Renesas chip making facility in Japan back in March. They had a third of the world market for automotive chips, so their lack of production was bound to hit Japanese automakers. When you search for how well Renesas has recovered and rebuilt since then, you get reports all the way from 88% to who knows. Supposedly they should be back fully back in business by early July. But there's no chance they can fill the black hole of shortages or come close. Me, I'm more inclined to think the drought in the Western US will soon have more ramifications than chip shortages. As in there will be fresh food shortages and Las Vegas will boil. There's been a history of megadroughts in the region, But there's way more people living there and elsewhere since the last time. Plus aquifers have been drained with abandon. Let's see the free market or any other kind fix that.

    • See 1 previous
    • RHD RHD on Jun 22, 2021

      If the free market could build a water pipeline from the Mississippi River to California, that problem would have a sweet solution. California has plenty of solar electricity - both potential and realized - so the companies that build oil pipelines could do something both profitable and beneficial.

  • Bill Wade Bill Wade on Jun 21, 2021

    I took my 2018 VW Sportwagen in for a oil change. The sales manager asked me if I wanted to sell it. He offered me $1,000 more than they sold it to me new. I called my brother for a ride home.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 22, 2021

      @Corey Lewis are you listening? :-) [When life offers you a Mulligan, you should almost always take it.]

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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