The company, in a statement provided by spokeswoman Jodi Tinson, said it was working to mitigate the situation and that the "unprecedented global microchip shortage" would shut production at the plants through early to mid-April.
"Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," the statement said.
Unifor Local 444, in a Facebook post Thursday evening about the Windsor plant, urged workers to take direction from their supervisor.
"(The) union has received word that the shortage of microchips crippling almost every auto company is now impacting us here at the Windsor Assembly Plant. Because of the shortage, our plant will be down for the next four weeks starting on Monday, March 29," according to the union's post.
UAW-represented workers in Belvidere were informed in an email Thursday evening that "unless notified by their department, all production, skilled trades and stamping operations" would be shut down for three weeks, beginning Monday.
The news in Windsor prompted an outpouring of comments on the Facebook post, most asking how the shutdown would affect employee time off but also some showing excitement about the prospect of an unexpected break.
Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy told the Windsor Star that the situation is frustrating heading into the upcoming Easter weekend, and he blamed a short-sighted parts manufacturing strategy for the crisis.
"Chrysler used to build many of its own parts. This just-in-time delivery is costing us untold dollars for short-term savings. The pandemic has taught us it's even more important that it should be made in Canada now," Cassidy told the Star.
The paper said that Ford's Essex Engine Plant will also be down for a day on April 16.
News about production issues facing Warren Truck surfaced earlier in the week. At that point, the company said it was holding unfinished trucks at the plant until the parts become available. That announcement also included the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Mexico, but Stellantis did not include the Saltillo plant in its announcement Friday of a full shutdown. Both plants produce the Ram 1500 Classic, which is the older version of the popular pickup.
The newer version of the Ram 1500 is produced at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. A decision to cut production elsewhere could be seen in the context of the company trying to preserve for as long as possible its profitable truck sales.
The 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, the new high-end large SUVs coming from Jeep, are also being built at Warren, but Tinson said their rollout would not be delayed by the shutdown. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are expected to be available beginning this summer.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has described the semiconductor shortage as "a very big hit to our business plan," but Stellantis is not alone in its struggles.
Ford and General Motors have also been hit hard, as have other automakers around the world.
Ford had to close down production at various plants in recent weeks in different parts of the country and Canada. The company confirmed Friday the Dearborn Truck Plant, which builds the bestselling F-150, would be down Friday through Sunday due to a part shortage as a result of the semiconductor issue. Production is scheduled to resume on Monday, said Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager.
Because today's vehicles use so much technology, microchips have become increasingly important, and any sustained disruption has wide-ranging consequences for the auto industry.
A UAW spokesman, when asked about the Stellantis shutdowns, directed a reporter to a previous statement, highlighting the off-shoring of semiconductor production over the previous 30 years to South Korea, Taiwan and China. The union said the United States only controls about 14% of semiconductor manufacturing.©2021 www.freep.com. Visit at freep.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.