Subaru Getting Super Screwed By Semiconductor Shortage

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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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.]

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  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.