The chorus of voices calling for the Biden administration to assist with the ongoing semiconductor shortage got another member today.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation implored the U.S. Commerce Department to secure dedicated funding to expand U.S. semiconductor production, in particular to address the needs of the automotive industry.
The prolonged battle automakers have waged trying to secure chips to keep production lines rolling as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic has been a seesaw affair. U.S.-based auto plants have been forced to eliminate overtime, slow down and shut down production at facilities across the country.
New vehicle sales saw a big jump in March — the first month of pandemic-related closures last year — but they could have been higher if it were not for the shortages. Particularly affected are General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.
Federal government response
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden ordered a variety of actions designed to try to address the current crisis and prevent a future one. He’s pushing for as much as $37 billion in new funding to amp up semiconductor production in the U.S.
Part of that flurry of mandated activity included working with affected industries to get ideas about how to prevent the problem in the future. It’s there where the alliance responded in writing with a proposal about how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
And it’s pretty straightforward advice. The group suggested some of the funding “be used to build new capacity that will support the auto industry and mitigate the risks to the automotive supply chain evidenced by the current chip shortage,” the group’s chief executive, John Bozzella, wrote.
The group recommended using “a particular percentage — that is reasonably based on the projected needs of the auto industry — be allocated for facilities that will support the production of auto grade chips in some manner,” Reuters reported.
The group represents several major automakers with facilities in the U.S., including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co.
Latest impact on automakers
Ford is dealing the with a slew of problems facing its flagship facilities. It will be down the weeks of April 5 and April 12. In addition, the company cancelled super shifts — the company’s term for overtime shifts — the weeks of April 26, May 10, May 31 and June 21.
At the Kansas City Assembly Plant, the company is shutting down the truck side only the week of April 5. It cancelled super shifts at KCAP Truck side the weeks of April 12, April 19, April 26, May 3, May 10, May 17, June 7 and June 14. The Transit side is canceling super shifts for the weeks of April 5, April 12 and April 19.
The Louisville Assembly Plant, which builds utility vehicles, will be down the weeks of April 12 and 19.
Ford also said two other plants, Chicago Assembly, where the company builds the Ford Explorer, is canceling a super shift for the week of April 5, while the Ohio Assembly Plant, near Cleveland, where the company builds heavy-duty pickup truck is canceling super shifts for the weeks of April 12 and April 26.
In Canada, Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, where the Ford Edge is built, will be down the weeks of April 12, April 19 and April 26 due to the shortage of semiconductors.
The Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, the Warren Truck plant in suburban Detroit, Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico, and Canadian plants in Brampton and Windsor, Ontario, will be shut through the middle of middle of April, Stellantis said in a statement.
The company says it’s doing all it can to continue building full-size pickup trucks. However, the GM said the Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, where the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4 and the CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, where GM Builds the Chevrolet Equinox will be shut through mid-April.