Detroit Automakers Idle Plants Amid Semiconductor Shortage

The limited availability of microchips is affecting pickup truck production and making it more challenging for automakers, says Autotrader automotive analyst Michelle Krebs.

Detroit’s auto industry is navigating a number of supply chain issues — the most significant of which is a shortage of small electronic parts known as “semiconductors” or “microchips.” Car companies are prioritizing the production of certain models in an effort to mitigate the impact. 

Vehicles with surplus inventories, like the Chevrolet Camaro and RAM 1500 Classic pickup truck, have been among the first to see production cut. Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and General Motors have both paused assembly lines in Michigan as a result, and Ford plans to pause its Dearborn truck plant.

“We are getting to the point that it looks like pickup production is being affected.” — Michelle Krebs, Autotrader

Michelle Krebs is an automotive analyst for Autotrader. She says Detroit’s automakers aren’t the only ones being impacted by the shortage.

“Honda for instance,” says Krebs, halted production at a number of its plants in Ohio and other states. Toyota has done the same. “This is a global problem.”

Krebs says the chip shortage is not the only supply chain problem impacting the automotive sector. She says the recent failing of the Texas power grid has impacted the production of foam needed to make car seats.

Listen: Autotrader automotive analyst Michelle Krebs discusses the global shortage of semiconductors.

Despite the problems, Krebs says she does not believe the sector has been crippled by the shortage so far.

“It’s making it more challenging,” says Krebs, “because there’s juggling that has to be done. And we are getting to the point that it looks like pickup production is being affected.”

Krebs says General Motors has decided to sell Chevrolet Silverado trucks without a microchip that helps manage fuel mileage. She says Ford is producing F-150 pickups without semiconductors and setting them aside to install the parts later.

Ford says it will temporarily halt production its Dearborn truck plant starting next week.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.