General Motors has done everything it can to protect production of its in-demand and highly profitable full-size pickups from the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips used in many car parts.
But now GM will be pausing most of its pickup production in North America.
In a notice to union members obtained by the Free Press, and confirmed by GM, the automaker will make the following production adjustments starting Monday:
•Flint Assembly, where GM builds the full-size heavy duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, will operate on one shift for the week and is expected to resume regular production on Aug. 2.
•Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana, where GM builds the full-size light-duty pickups, will be idled for the week, expected to resume regular production on Aug. 2.
•Silao Assembly in Mexico, which also builds full-size light-duty pickups, will idle for the week and is expected to resume regular production on Aug. 2.
"These most recent scheduling adjustments are being driven by temporary parts shortages caused by semiconductor supply constraints from international markets experiencing COVID-19-related restrictions," GM spokesman David Barnas said in a statement. "We expect it to be a near-term issue."
The news comes less than seven days after GM said it would have to idle four of its North American plants that build midsize SUVs — including Lansing Delta Township Assembly — starting July 19 and running for two weeks due to the chips shortage.
Additionally, at CAMI Assembly in Ontario, where GM builds the Equinox, GM will extend downtime to Aug. 16. CAMI was supposed to resume production next week following its scheduled two-week summer shutdown.
Since early this year the auto industry has had to either idle assembly plants or build vehicles shy of all the parts and then park them to await the arrival of chips. The result is comparatively empty dealer lots and a scramble to get as many vehicles built and shipped as possible when parts do arrive.
The chips, made mostly in Taiwan, are used in a variety of electronics. They are in tight supply after demand for them rose during the COVID-19 pandemic as people bought laptops and other personal electronics that also use them. The chips go into a variety of car parts.
GM is running what the industry has called a build-shy strategy, where it builds as much of its vehicles as it can, less the parts that require the chips. It's been parking tens of thousands of vehicles all over the country to await final production once the chip parts become available.
Late last week, a worker at Lansing Delta Township plant told the Free Press there are about 15,000 vehicles parked, awaiting chip parts to complete production and ship to dealers. The worker asked to not be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Barnas said the downtime at the pickup and SUV plants will "provide us with the opportunity to complete unfinished vehicles at the impacted assembly plants and ship those units to dealers to help meet the strong customer demand for our products."
To keep vehicles flowing to dealers, GM also has been building some vehicles without certain chip parts.
In March, GM said it would build certain 2021 light-duty full-size pickups without a fuel management module until the end of the model year in late summer.
In June, GM started building certain full-size SUVs and pickups without the Automatic Stop/Start, the feature that turns off the engine when a driver stops at an intersection and then automatically restarts it when the driver steps on the throttle.
Most recently, GM said it will make some SUVs without a wireless phone charging feature.
"The global semiconductor shortage remains complex and very fluid, but GM's global purchasing and supply chain, engineering and manufacturing teams continue to find creative solutions and make strides working with the supply base to minimize the impact to our highest-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles, including full-size trucks and SUVs for our customers," Barnas said.©2021 www.freep.com. Visit at freep.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.