Chip Shortage Forcing Daimler to Stall Production

In today’s update on the semiconductor shortage, we learn that Daimler has elected to place over 18,000 Mercedes-Benz employees on reduced schedules. With an insufficient number of chips, the manufacturer cannot produce vehicles with sufficient reliability and has decided to ease off until resupplies are more predictable. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen for at least a few months — forcing Mercedes to roll with the punches much like Subaru, General Motors, and Ford. Though this is a problem that’s impacting the entirety of the automotive industry.

Daimler made its announcement on Wednesday, stating that facilities in Bremen and Rastatt will be the first (and hopefully only) plants affected by the stall.

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Chip Shortage: Subaru Shutting Down SIA Through April

Today’s update on the global semiconductor shortage involves Subaru, which recently announced that it would be suspending production at its plant in Indiana. Lafayette’s Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) will be idled through the end of April while the automaker waits for suppliers to catch up. It’s a situation we’ve seen numerous manufacturers forced into this year, with Ford arguably being the most relevant for the North American market.

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Ford Skipping Summer Shutdowns

Ford will be ignoring the typical two-week summer shutdown this year as a way to make up for production downtime caused by the semiconductor shortage. That’s undoubtedly going to complicate some vacation plans. But Blue Oval has already given loads of workers time off and has more downtime planned through April and now that the necessary factory maintenance can be accomplished while assembly lines are idled during supply chain issues, leaving employees to schedule any time off through their local union.

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Auto Industry Requests U.S. Government Help With Chip Shortage

The Alliance for Auto Innovation (AAI) is hard at work begging the federal government for help while the world continues coping with the semiconductor chip shortage, though it’s hardly the first time the industry has asked for or received administrative assistance. With pandemic lockdowns throwing global supply chains into a tailspin, U.S President Joe Biden said his administration would be seeking $37 billion and new legislation to address the chip shortage while federal agencies were directed to see what could be done in the interim.

But there’s little to be done with the brunt of the relevant manufacturing taking place in Asia, hence the AAI lobby requesting U.S. Commerce Department set aside some cash for domestic chip production in a new bill.

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Toyota Pauses Production at 9 Plants Following Weekend Earthquake

Japan was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake over the weekend. The Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit the hardest, offering a physical reminder of the 9.0 magnitude quake that devastated the region in 2011. Scientists have claimed that Saturday’s tremor was actually an aftershock from the horror show that occurred a decade earlier.

While still a large systemic event, authorities aren’t reporting widespread injuries or even damages. However, many citizens were left without power and numerous industrial facilities were idled for inspection. This includes automakers, with Toyota making an announcement that it will be stalling nine factories for several days this week. Though only some of that time is needed for safety assessments. The automaker is fretting over a batch of suppliers that were impacted by the quake and is anticipating a parts shortage.

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Korean Automakers Say Apple Deal Isn't Happening

Over the weekend, Hyundai Motor Group addressed rumors that Kia had been in negotiations to build an electric vehicle for Apple. While the scuttlebutt seems to have been true, talks were indeed underway, the automaker confessed that they had ended without an agreement.

It’s known that Apple has been hunting for potential partners after its EV program was placed into an extended stasis and was hoping to gain access to a skateboard-type platform. Hyundai’s E-GMP architecture certainly qualifies, too. But it’s just one of many entities entering the field as most manufacturers strive to build their own.

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Ford Calls Out Suppliers for Leaks

The good ship Ford has been quite leaky lately. And the automaker is pinning the blame on its suppliers.

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2021 Ford Bronco Delayed Until Summer 2021

The automotive world’s most anticipated product is now delayed again. No, not the All-New Ford EcoSport. In a communication to dealerships, Ford confirmed that the 2021 Ford Bronco would be delayed until Summer 2021. The rollout change was forced by COVID-19 challenges that some of Ford’s suppliers are facing. In a communication sent to dealers that a tipster provided to TTAC, Ford also provided an update on some Bronco options.

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EVs Have Given Asian Suppliers Unrivaled Industrial Might

Seen by some as a moral imperative, electrification is swiftly changing the dynamics of the automotive industry. While automakers spend billions of dollars developing EVs and securing the necessary partners, many are becoming dependent on a handful of companies in Asia for the all-important battery cells needed to power the damn things. It’s gotten so serious that the U.S. government has taken an interest following a December 2019 report from the Institute for Defense Analyses that claimed battery manufacturers had taken on an “outsized importance” in the automotive sector.

It also said the United States would be at a distinct disadvantage if there are supply shortages — which is something that has already happened and is presumed to worsen as more electric vehicles flood into the market over the next few years. The automotive industry is pushing hard into electrification as governments around the world attempt to plot out an elaborate plan to supplant the internal combustion vehicle with EVs. But there are concerns that this has stacked the deck for a small number of suppliers from China, South Korea, and Japan.

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Continental Offices Raided in VW Diesel Probe

It hasn’t been what we would call a tranquil year for Continental. The German parts supplier spent the summer preparing for one of the worst financial periods in its 149-year history and apologizing for its involvement with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) by hiring an independent researcher to chronicle their forced-labor practices in detail. The dark trip down memory lane served as a strange interlude from the company’s financial concerns, which re-manifested in September when Continental announced it would have to eliminate around 13 percent of its existing staff — or about 30,000 employees.

News has broken that the supplier’s 2020 troubles didn’t end there. German prosecutors also made their rounds on September 22nd, stopping at Continental facilities in Hanover and Regensburg as part of an ongoing investigation into Volkswagen’s Dieselgate fiasco from 2015.

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Ford Touts Expanded Partnership With Mobileye for Next-gen Driver Assist

Despite urging buyers to venture far from the beaten path with its new Bronco, Ford knows the bulk of its customers will want to keep their tires planted firmly on blacktop, and chances are they’d like the car to handle some of the responsibilities, too.

With that in mind, Ford reached a deal with Mobileye to develop and provide a key element of the brand’s driver-assist hardware. Note that we’re not calling it semi-autonomous, and with good reason.

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Bullish on EVs, Hyundai Issues a Challenge

Hyundai and its sister automaker, Kia Motors, want to hear from you. Well, maybe not you, but someone with electrification expertise and a startup in tow.

As the automakers prepare a series of upcoming electric models, the automakers, joined by their battery supplier, have issued a challenge.

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GM's Newest Tweener Limps Out of the Gate

Your author can’t explain why his neighbor purchased a new Chevrolet Blazer Premier, but he can understand why General Motors felt the need to insert a new crossover between the Equinox and Traverse. CUV white space = $$$, I think the famous equation goes.

With this in mind, the existence of the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, slotted between the Trax and Equinox, is equally understandable. Boasting a brace of three-bangers and more space and MPGs than a Trax, the decidedly non-BOF Trailblazer serves as a larger stepping stone to the Chevy brand.

Timing, however, was not the Trailblazer’s strong suit.

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Ford 'Confident' It'll Have the Transfer Cases It Needs

As it woos the UAW with health protocol and assesses suppliers to ensure their readiness when production resumes (whenever that ends up being), Ford Motor Company says a crucial component it needs for a great number of big-ticket vehicles will be there, too.

Hoping to get all of its ducks in a row before Michigan opens itself up for business, Ford had employees working feverishly in a state that contains no Ford plants.

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Bad News for Ford: Carolina Twister Makes Direct Hit on Automaker's Supply Chain

An outbreak of tornadoes through the Gulf states and into the Southeast early last week saw one twister shatter a sprawling BorgWarner assembly plant. Known for building all-important transfer cases for four-and all-wheel drive vehicles, the Seneca, SC facility lay in near-ruins following the direct hit, though it wasn’t known which manufacturers sourced components from the plant.

Well, it turns out one recipient of Seneca-built parts is Ford — and it uses a lot of them.

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