By on August 4, 2021

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD SLT

It’s no surprise that automotive computer chips are harder to find than potato chips at a Beachbody convention. GM has been hit hard by the shortage, forced to idle production of its most profitable machines while choosing to de-content some of their vehicles in a bid to keep the lines humming.

Truck production will take another hit this week, with a trio of pickup plants scheduled to fall silent for seven days starting on August 9th.

According to a report by the Detroit News, The General confirmed yesterday that their Heavy Duty plant in Flint, plus the light-duty outfits in Mexico and Indiana, will go offline this coming Monday. The company figures a week’s break will ease the situation and plans to have the place rocking again within a week but that timeline could change – for better or worse – depending on what is an increasingly fluid situation.

And, before you ask, this is a different shutdown than the one on which we reported earlier. Monday’s action will mark the second time GM truck production has halted thanks to a shortage of semiconductors, though the HD facility in Flint did manage to retain one shift during that hiccup. That will not be the case this time around.

Barren dealer lots should be familiar to most of our readers by this point in the calendar year 2021, and the following list of temporarily shuttered GM factories should explain why. In addition to the truck stoppage mentioned above, facilities at Spring Hill, Lansing, CAMI (Canada) Ramos (Mexico), and San Luis (Mexico) have all been down since July 19. The crew in Tennessee is not scheduled to restart until Monday, Lansing resumes on August 16th, while San Luis and CAMI shutdowns could potentially stretch into September. All those plants assemble money-making crossovers and SUVs, the type consumers typically snap up by the yaffle during normal times. Models include – among others – the XT4/XT5, Acadia, Equinox, and Terrain.

2020 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Dual Rear Wheel

Alert readers will recall that, in a bid to keep a trickle of trucks flowing to hungry dealers, GM ceased including some chip-driven features such as start/stop and Dynamic Fuel Management. Your author recently spent a week in a GMC Sierra powered by a 5.3L V8 that was affected by these changes and can report that fuel economy did take a small hit compared to equivalent testing in an equally-optioned truck last year. Overall performance while towing a heavy trailer was unaffected, as you’d likely expect.

GM is hardly alone in this boat, with plenty of other manufacturers dealing with production challenges of their own. The global chip shortage is said to have stemmed from the pandemic’s early days, in which car production waned by demand for electronics by house-bound humans skyrocketed. Chip suppliers, then directed their flow of product in that direction, a blip that has yet to smooth out in the favor of automakers.

[Images: GMC]

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27 Comments on “General Motors Halts Pickup Truck Production Again...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Off topic…but holy crap, are those things ugly.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Perhaps GM won’t need to schedule their annual shutdown this fall because of overbuilding, so things may even out.

    The local Ford dealer’s latest radio message is:
    “Why settle for a truck from the lot, when you can build it the way you want?! Come in now and order the truck YOU want!”
    Translation: “We’re dying out here, so please lock in an order, even if delivery is X weeks out.”

    I laughed and cried at the same time.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Maybe the chip shortage is just an elaborate cover-up. They keep running out of plastic to make those massive ugly grills.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Don’t give BMW any ideas for uglier grills. That will be the front of the new X5.

      As a side note, OK, I’m officially over this chip shortage. I’m in IT hardware, mainly on the systems side (everything but programming). I’m still waiting months for laptops, desktops, hard drives, Samsung phones, and a couple of servers.

      I passed by a local Buick dealer a couple of days ago. I counted seven new cars on their lot. And it’s a large dealership. The local Mazda, Subaru, and VW dealers are also understocked.

      I’ve written before that I wonder what things are going to be like pricewise when these cars/trucks parked all over the place start being sold. These are 2021 models…what about the 2022 models? New, unsold 2021s sold next to brand new 2022 models. That’s the time to buy.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @theflyersfan- agreed. I suspect that we’ll have some good deals at the end of 2021 into 2022

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @theflyersfan- agreed. I suspect that we’ll have some good deals at the end of 2021 into 2022

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Drove by the local Honda superstore tonight. Instead of their 3-400 new Hondas they have maybe a dozen, and then maybe 100 newer used vehicles of all makes. I truly feel sorry for anyone was HAS to buy a car now.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I bought one a couple of months ago and got an entirely decent deal (particularly on my trade), but it was a sedan, and they’d had it on the lot for about six months.

          I think the people getting screwed are the ones buying trucks and crossovers.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Despite the semiconductor chip shortage, I wonder if the reason production has halted is that these things are so frigging ugly.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Despite the semiconductor chip shortage, I wonder if the reason production has halted is that these things are so frigging ugly.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Despite the semiconductor chip shortage, I wonder if the reason production has halted is that these things are so frigging ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You can say that again. But (new) pickups don’t have to look good. Or ugly is OK.

      It still looks good from the sides and behind though. Although any front-ugly pickup can be fixed by getting it in black and ordering/swapping in the color-keyed grill and bumper, or “base” matte parts.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @DenverMike – I “credit” the 1999 redesign of the Ford Super Duty that started this trend. Even more than the 1993 Dodge Ram – that at least flowed into the design of the hood and sides. The Super Duty was just a wall or wedge meant to be big. And the measuring contest has continued 22 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        As trucks go, the Ram 1500 looks good to me – I like the understated styling.
        Talk about a reversal of reality – 20 years ago, it was the GM and Ford trucks that looked understated, while the Ram was overstyled.

  • avatar

    manufactured crisis, same as the rona.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      That’s not a Buick

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      A major semiconductor factory caught on fire, and they’re still repairing the damage:

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-renesas-taiwan/renesas-says-normal-production-at-fire-hit-chip-plant-to-take-100-120-days-idUSKBN2BM09M

      It’s a regular industrial f*ckup, with ripple effects throughout the global supply chain. And, yes, nearly every company’s supply chain is global.

      This sort of thing has happened before. For instance, the Kobe earthquake took out a big fraction of the world’s RAM manufacturing capacity in 1995, and the world computer industry was disrupted for some time afterward — until the manufacturing capacity could be rebuilt. See:

      https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-01-18-fi-21426-story.html

      The current semiconductor shortage just happens to coincide with increased demand for electronics due to the COVID-driven shift to WFH. These two issues make each other worse, but they do not share a common root-cause.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @Luke42 – I think that’s when RAM rose to over $100/MB. Imagine that today (shudder…) When it fell to around $50/MB, that’s when I splurged and upgraded my Gateway 2000 beast!!!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Since they’ve used fire already, let’s see what is going to happen to the next “shut down” semiconductor factory:

        1. National crisis
        2. Labor strike
        3. Earthquake
        4. Explosion
        5. Godzilla

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Matthew–I would be interested in a follow up on Ford on the chip shortage. I read on Ford Authority that the chip shortage could last thru June of 2022. I would be interested in how this will effect the production of the new Maverick which at the latest Ford scheduled to start production on August 16. I was told by the Ford dealership that it could be as late as next Spring until I get the Maverick that I ordered. I will hold onto my 2008 Ranger until I get the Maverick.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Not only does the semiconductor industry need to (re)build factories to replace lost capacity, production backlogs throughout the global supply chain will need to be backfilled.

      Just because the chips aren’t being made doesn’t mean companies which use computer chips aren’t placing orders — and expecting them to be filled ASAP.

      This means everyone will be standing in line waiting for their chips, with those who have the highest profit margins at the front of the line. This will take months to untangle, even after the Renesas factory capacity is replaced.

      Yes, all of this is the obvious result of cost-cutting, just-in-time inventory and outsourcing. But it’s hard to make money without those things, so it’s not likely to change any time soon.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If the chip shortage persists the manufacturers might go more to the consumer placing orders for new vehicles. Ford lets you select your vehicle on their website and then you get a email notification and call by the dealer. If this becomes permanent the dealers can reduce the size of their locations with less space to park inventory and less showroom space.

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