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General Motors will keep two of its assembly plants shuttered until at least mid-April, another until the end of March and will idle a fourth, all due to a severe shortage of semiconductor chips used in various vehicle parts.

But the automaker is doing everything it can to protect the production of its full-size pickups and SUVs, which are its big profit makers.

Demand for semiconductor chips is up in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and increased demand for laptop computers and other personal electronics that use the chips. Cars also use them in a variety of parts and infotainment systems. In fact, one car part could use 500 to 1,500 chips depending on the complexity of the part, analysts said.

General Motors employees work on the assembly line Friday, April 26, 2019 at Fairfax Assembly & Stamping Plant in Kansas City, Kansas. The Fairfax facility produces the Cadillac XT4 and Chevrolet Malibu.

GM on Feb. 8 shut down production for both shifts — initially until mid-March — at the following plants: 

  • Fairfax Assembly and Stamping Plant in Kansas City, Kansas: About 2,000 hourly workers build the Chevrolet Malibu sedan and Cadillac XT4 SUV.
  • CAMI, Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada: About 1,500 hourly workers build the Chevrolet Equinox SUV.
  • San Luis Potosí, Mexico: Builds Chevrolet Equinox and Trax and GMC Terrain SUVs.

On Wednesday, GM said production at Fairfax and CAMI will now be shuttered until mid-April. GM is extending downtime at San Luis Potosi through the end of March.  

Additionally, GM’s Gravatai plant in Brazil will take downtime in April and May. The Gravatai factory, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, builds the Chevrolet Onix, which is a top-selling car in South America.

“GM continues to leverage every available semiconductor to build and ship our most popular and in-demand products, including full-size trucks
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