Chip crunch extends Jeep Cherokee, Ford truck downtime

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

A global microchip shortage is extending downtime at two North American plants of the Detroit Three this week.

Ford Motor Co. is idling its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake for a second consecutive week. The plant produces medium-duty trucks, vans and Super Duty chassis cabs, employing more than 1,700 people. The Dearborn automaker has said chip issues are expected to persist in the first quarter with hopes for improvement in the second half of the year.

Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois also will be down again this week. The Stellantis NV plant that employs nearly 2,000 people west of Chicago had production halted for much of last year, and CEO Carlos Tavares has said he doesn't expect to see improvement in 2022.

The Jeep Cherokee is built in Belvidere, Illinois.

"Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement.

Following pandemic-induced shutdowns and amid high demand for new vehicles, there's been an insufficient capacity for the production of semiconductors needed in vehicles for driving safety features, emissions controls, and amenities such as infotainment and heated seats. Ford is shipping some Explorers without rear seat heating controls.

Consulting firm AlixPartners LLP recently reported that the automotive industry lost 8.2 million units of vehicle production last year due to the semiconductor shortage and other supply-chain and labor constraints. The firm expects output to be 8% higher than 2021's results. The industry worldwide has lost 930,000 vehicles produced so far this year, according to AutoForecast Solutions LLC.

Ford executives said earlier this year that they expect the company's global volumes to increase between 10% and 15% this year as the shortage eases. So far in 2022, the automaker has lost more than 106,000 vehicles globally, including 5,446 at Ohio Assembly, AutoForecast Solutions estimates.

Stellantis last year lost about 20% of scheduled global production. It's lost 43,000 produced vehicles this year, including 7,775 in Belvidere.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

Staff Writer Jordyn Grzelewski contributed.