When Detroit’s automakers closed their production facilities down early in the pandemic, orders were cancelled for the semiconductor chips that are needed to run their vehicle’s various computer modules. At the time this seemed like a reasonable business decision, but the current global shortage of these chips is wreaking havoc on automaker’s production capabilities. GM has started shipping pickup trucks without fuel management systems due to the shortage, while incomplete Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 stockpiles are growing. Now though the Blue Oval has announced that they are taking things a step further. According to a release from the automaker, several Ford truck and SUV plants are slated to go off-line for weeks at a time in the near future. More specifically, six production facilities in North America will face closures or shift cancelations ahead of Ford’s Q1 financial report. The announcement includes both American Ford F-150 plants. Here’s what you need to know.
This latest round of semiconductor chip shortages will impact several of the company’s most profitable vehicles, including the F-150, Escape, and Explorer models. The first of the closures are slated to take place at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant and the Kansas City Assembly Plant, though the latter closure will only impact truck production. Both facilities are slated to go offline during the week of April 5, with Dearborn remaining closed through April 12. Both facilities will also see weeks worth of super shifts being canceled, with Kansas City workers impacted until mid-June. These plants are home to the Ford F-150 pickup truck, which is by far the automakers most important vehicle.
The Louisville Assembly and Oakville Assembly will also be facing closures this month, with the Canadian plant slated to be off-line the longest. Louisville and Oakville will both close starting April 12, and will remain closed for two weeks and three weeks, respectively. Not unlike the Ford truck plants, production facilities in Ohio and Illinois will also be impacted by super shift cancelations this month. Chicago Assembly will lose these shifts during the week of April 5, whereas folks in Ohio will see these shifts cancelled during the weeks of April 12 and April 26.
Semiconductor chips are vital parts of modern cars and pickup trucks, controlling everything from infotainment systems to brake-by-wire components. As the shortage continues, it won’t be surprising to see other automakers follow in Ford’s footsteps. The automaker already knew this was going to be a problem earlier in the year however, as they estimated a loss of profits around $1 billion to $2.5 billion for 2021. With these upcoming closures, it is possible that figure will increase. FoMoCo has yet to comment with updated loss estimates however, opting instead to wait until their Q1 financial reports post on April 28.
The Ford F-150 pickup truck is the most popular vehicle in the United States, and this freeze on production will surely create shortages at dealers. This is bad news for the automaker and their customers alike, especially considering the F-150 entered a new generation for the 2021 model year. Here is to hoping that this issue doesn’t extend past April, and that things can get back on track as summer draws nearer.