Automakers are still grappling with the chip shortage, cutting production time down and giving up on getting those vehicles back this year — however, not all the closures are semiconductor related.
Ford Motor Co. plans to resume production Sept. 20 at an assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, which closed earlier this month after a leak of toxic material into the local sewer system forced hundreds of residents from their homes near the plant.
Ford confirmed by e-mail the company agreed to pay each owner of the 1,100 homes impacted by the spill $500 to cover expenses incurred when they had to leave their homes near the plant south of Detroit. The Flat Rock plant currently builds the Ford Mustang is the only Ford plant building traditional passenger cars.
GM extends shutdown at Orion
General Motors, meanwhile, said it is extending the shutdown of its assembly plant in Orion Township, north of Detroit, where it assembles the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt through Oct. 15. GM originally closed the Orion plant at the end of August after expanding the recall of the Bolt due to potential battery fires.
GM has now targeted 140,000 Bolts, including the latest models, for recall, which could involve replacing the battery packs. The extension of the layoffs at the Orion plant indicates GM and its South Korean partner, LG Energy, which manufactured the battery, have not yet come up with a satisfactory fix for curing the defect in the batteries.
GM also extended the shutdowns at two Lansing, Michigan plants, the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario and two plants in Mexico — Ramos Arizpe and San Luis Potosi — due to the continuing shortage of semiconductors. The Lansing plants will be down the week of Sept. 27 while the other plants will stay shuttered through the week of Oct. 11, GM said.
“These most recent scheduling adjustments are being driven by the continued parts shortages caused by semiconductor supply constraints from international markets experiencing COVID-related restrictions,” said David Barnas, GM spokesman, in an email to TheDetroitBureau.com.
“We remain confident in our team’s ability to continue finding creative solutions to minimize the impact on our highest-demand and capacity constrained vehicles. Although the situation remains complex and very fluid, GM continues to prioritize full-size truck production which remains in high demand.”
The tights supply of semiconductors, which has prevailed all year, also prompted Stellantis to extend the shutdown of its plant in Belvedere, Illinois, which is used to build the Jeep Cherokee.
IHS cuts outlook for future production
IHS Markit said this week it was cutting its global light vehicle production schedule forecast by 6.2% or 5.02 million units in 2021. In an indication it expects shortages to continue, IHS also said it was reducing its forecast for 2022 by 9.3% or 8.45 million units in 2022.
“For 2023 we have reduced the forecast by 1.05M units or 1.1% to 92M units; this is a front-loaded adjustment and from the second quarter we expect output levels will be able to accelerate as supply chains return to normal,” IHS said in a statement.
Stellantis still faces strike threat
Stellantis also is continuing to face pressure from a strike at an axle plant operated by ZF, which supplies axles for Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs. The issues around the strike at the plant in Marysville, Michigan have not been resolved, United Auto Workers officials said.
The strike over union recognition has left unionized portion operating more or less normally under an existing labor pact. However, workers seeking to have the UAW recognized as there bargaining agent have set up picket lines at the new plant, which was set up after ZF bought out an existing operation — and labor contract — from Fiat Chrysler.