Ford extends production downtime at Kansas City plant due to chip shortage

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. next week is cutting back production at a key North American plant due to the semiconductor chip shortage that continues to disrupt auto production worldwide.

The Dearborn automaker on Wednesday confirmed that both F-150 truck and Transit van production will be down at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri next week.

Production and support employees for both vehicle lines will be temporarily laid off beginning Sept. 13, with an expected return date of Sept. 20, according to a notice sent to employees Wednesday and obtained by The Detroit News. The memo notes that certain Transit workers still will be needed next week.

The production cuts at the Kansas City plant are just the latest for Ford and other automakers around the world that have been grappling with a computer chip shortage since late last year. Industry experts and executives now are warning that the supply crunch could persist longer than initially expected, and stretch well into 2022, as the suppliers of the crucial components deal with COVID-19 outbreaks and other constraints.

This week, as Ford previously announced, F-150 production at Kansas City is down, while production of the best-selling, profit-driving pickup truck is down to one shift at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant. And Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant, which builds Super Duty trucks, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator, is operating on two shifts instead of three this week and next.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the Malaysian semiconductor firm Unisem will shut some plants for seven days after three employees died recently from COVID-19.

The company, which is a major chip assembler and tester, will close Ipoh plants in the state of Perak until Sept. 15 to help stop the spread of the disease and then will limit the number of employees allowed into the facilities once they reopen, the outlet reported.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski