By on April 13, 2021

Those of you tracking the semiconductor shortage can probably take it easy for a while, as practically every industry group on the planet has tentatively agreed we’ll be seeing a chip deficit for a few years. Meanwhile, market analysts are trying to predict the next material we won’t have enough of and rubber is looking like an ideal candidate.

Rubber supplies are drying up and price increases are reportedly beginning to climb at an untenable pace. Despite several years of relatively stable availability and low prices, supply chain disruptions created by lockdowns have left latex harvesters in a bad position. Low prices encouraged many to over harvest their existing crop, rather than invest in farmland. But with shortages looking probable as countries began responding to the pandemic, China went on a buying spree to maintain a robust national stockpile in 2020. The United States was late to the party and now finds itself in a position where scarcity is driving rubber prices through the roof just when it needs to buy more.

(Read More…)

By on April 9, 2021

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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.  (Read More…)

By on April 6, 2021

us-capitol, public domain

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.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2021

The industry is having to stall more plants to contend with the semiconductor shortage that’s currently making it more difficult for you to get everything from a smartphone on up to your next vehicle. Ford Motor Co. recently informed employees that its Dearborn truck plant (easily one of its most profitable facilities) would need to be idled through the weekend to create a buffer for semiconductor chips. Worse yet, it’s not the first time the automaker has had to stall output of the F-150 this year. Ford has also started manufacturing trucks without all the necessary components, stating it would hold vehicles for a few weeks to account for supply chain delays.

Meanwhile, Chrysler has made a similar announcement about its minivan output as Windsor Assembly faces another chip deficit. Unifor Local 444 recently stated that the facility would be staring down the barrel of a four-week shutdown starting next week. Considering Chrysler’s minivans literally just dealt with a three-week stall over the chip shortage, union workers are understandably upset. Days earlier, General Motors Canada also announced that its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, will likely remain idle until the middle of April.  (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2021

On Thursday, Ford issued a statement explaining that some of its vehicles will be manufactured without the electronic modules dependent on semiconductors. While the automaker faulted the global semiconductor shortage, it also made mention of the winter storms from last month. A few shifts will reportedly be cut until supply chains stabilize while other lines will be constructing vehicles minus some electronics. The plan is for Blue Oval to hold onto them until more chips come in, minimizing production losses.

General Motors proposed a similar solution last week and has since started building 2021 light-duty full-size pickups without a fuel management module.

“Due to the global shortage of semiconductors impacting the global auto industry, we are making Active Fuel Management/Dynamic Fuel Management unavailable on certain 2021 model year full-size trucks,” said GM spokesperson Michelle Malcho.

(Read More…)

By on March 5, 2021

You’ve no doubt heard about the chip shortage sweeping the automotive industry. But have you heard of the foam shortage? That’s right, there’s a dazzling new deficit of supplies in the manufacturing sector and it’s affecting your seats. The semiconductor crisis is so winter. Next season’s hottest supply trend involves those lovely little petrochemicals necessary for foam production.

Texas storms that left millions without power last month, during one of the coldest winters in the region, could have reportedly shorted oil refinery output to a worrying degree. There is now an underabundance of refinery byproducts used to make propylene oxide, which is required to produce polyurethane foam, which is used to manufacture car seats.

(Read More…)

By on February 16, 2021

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.

(Read More…)

By on October 12, 2020

The C8 Chevrolet Corvette has certainly seen its share of hardships. Despite the vehicle receiving almost unanimous approval from those fortunate enough to get some cockpit time, it has been subject to numerous delays through no fault of its own. Union negations held last fall resulted in a 40-day UAW strike that pushed assembly of the mid-engine Corvette from the tail end of 2019 to the start of 2020. Of course, this butted its launch up against a global pandemic that forced General Motors to shut down production facilities for two months. Shutdowns likewise affected parts suppliers who were also made subject to government restrictions, causing bottlenecks across the industry.

Combined, these issues have forced GM to reduce the number of planned options. Many parts were proving too difficult to source with any reliability and the cars have become notoriously difficult to procure. While the manufacturer has said it would continue building the 2020 model year for as long as possible, supply is unlikely to meet demand until 2021. But the headaches haven’t abated just yet; GM has been forced to stall production on the C8 this week after running out of the necessary parts. (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2020

Mexico is attempting to accelerate parts production to ensure North American automakers have enough components on hand to stay operational. The response to the pandemic saw manufacturing stalled worldwide as governments assessed whether or not we’d soon be living through a plague of biblical proportions. While fate decreed a repeat of the Black Death would not be necessary, untold damage resulted in numerous business sectors.

The automotive industry hardly went unscathed. Lockdowns stopped sales in many markets for months and plunged supply chains into turmoil as OEMs shut down to ensure staff were helping to “flatten the curve.” With the public’s interest shifting rapidly away from coronavirus mandates toward demonstrations about police brutality and racial justice, or simply devolving into riots because people are pretty angry about how poorly 2020 is playing out, suppliers and automakers are gradually moving back to more normal production schedules.

This has been easier said than done. But it is being done, and that’s the important thing.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2020

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD SLT

While General Motors earned the right to resume production in Mexico on Thursday, parts procurement in the gradually reopening North American economy remains a serious roadblock.

U.S. plants came online May 18th following two months of pandemic-prompted downtime. Of topmost importance to all members of the Detroit Three are their hot-selling pickup lines, though UAW- and state-approved health protocol calls for a slow ramp-up, with all plants operating on reduced shifts. Parts supply will dictate those ramp-ups; in GM’s case, boosted pickup production in the Midwest will have to wait. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2020

Mexico spent plenty of time discussing the phased reopening of automotive plants last week. The presumption was that the nation would have to establish guidelines for industrial work zones that would allow some to resume production after May 18th, with timing coinciding with U.S. facilities that will be in desperate need of parts and vehicles. However, last minute changes left everyone wildly confused.

On Thursday, the Mexican government said the industrial sector wouldn’t be eligible for reopening until June 1st. The following day, it explained that the date didn’t actually mean much for automotive outfits, adding that companies could reopen at any time if they verified an adherence to new safety protocols. Thanks to another announcement over the weekend, most of the residual confusion has subsidized. Mexican facilities can reopen, provided they have the correct paperwork on file. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2020

fca

As predicted, supply issues are hampering the automotive industry’s relaunch. The good news is that practically everyone on the planet understood this would be a problem, but it’s undercut by the preliminary damage created by coronavirus lockdowns.

While automakers had sizable cash reserves with which to endure an economic shutdown, many suppliers did not. Small part suppliers have struggled with liquidity as larger equipment manufacturers try to figure out how to ramp up production and address their own supply headaches. As it turns out, shutting down an entire economic sector is a lot easier than restarting one after it’s been kneecapped. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2020

Mexico is considering reopening factories after May 18th, now that automakers and the U.S. government have requested it resume production at plants serving the American market. With supply chains needing time to catch up, vehicle assembly will be precarious until parts can be reliably sourced. And Mexico is an essential part of that industrial recovery plan, necessitating some light coordination with the United States.

Despite seeing a spike in new COVID infections, Mexico released a plan to ease restrictions on Wednesday. Making sure U.S. manufacturers have what they need has been incorporated into that strategy, with a few conditions. While industrial employees will soon head back to work, Mexico made no assurances that it will prioritize supplying the rest of North America with automobiles or their components.  (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Reports indicate Tesla has idled production in Shanghai, despite plans for the facility to resume production this week. Workers had been given time off for a five-day break that incorporated China’s International Workers’ Day (May 1st), with production expected to resume on the 6th. However, the facility made the surprise decision to remain closed.

Staff have been informed that the facility will not reopen until May 9th, according to inside sources. While this may lead one to wonder if the factory has found itself at the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak, there’s likely another explanation. Local outlets report Giga Shanghai as suffering from part shortages. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2020

gm

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. (Read More…)

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