Detroit, Michigan – Shortages of microchips and seat foam are combining with packed ports and a cargo crunch to shut down North American car assembly lines.
Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Volvo all said they been hit in the week ending 19 March.
Honda said it will suspend production at most of its US and Canadian factories this week after halting its Mexico plant last week .
'We continue to manage a number of supply chain issues related to the impact from coronavirus, congestion at various ports, the microchip shortage and severe winter weather,' said Honda spokesman Chris Abbruzzese. 'In some way, all of our auto plants in the US and Canada will be impacted, with most of the plants temporarily suspending production during the week of March 22.'
Car makers cut orders for microchips in the spring of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic slashed demand. Gaming companies took up the slack, leaving the car industry now struggling to source chips.
Bad weather in February 2021 shut most of the petrochemical plants on the US Gulf coast. The disruption in the supply of basic chemicals hit manufacturers of the diisocyanates and polyols used to make seating foam.
It also hit supplies of propylene for polypropylene components, with the resulting shortage doubling its price. Some plastics-related Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers have been down for at least two weeks. Automotive News was told in mid-March that problems related to petroleum-based automotive resins, nylons, foams, fibres and plastics could last for three to six months.
Toyota said supplier shortages hit production of the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid, Tacoma and Corolla, and the Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h, at plants in the US and Mexico.
Volvo said: 'We expect the situation to remain volatile during Q2, and we have therefore decided to take action now to stabilise the situation and mitigate the impact on production,' the company said. 'This means that we have temporarily halted production in our South Carolina, plant but we will continue to work with our suppliers to ramp up component volumes as soon as possible.' The plant makes the S60 model for international markets.
Ford said last week it had cancelled a Thursday evening shift and both Friday shifts at its Louisville assembly plant in Kentucky, where it builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair crossovers. The facility has faced numerous disruptions because of the chip shortage.
Nissan said it reduced output at North American plants late last week, with production resuming this week.
In Smyrna, Tennessee, production of the Murano crossover was suspended, and weekend overtime to build the Rogue crossover, Maxima sedan and Leaf electric hatchback was cancelled. Nissan also reduced production at the Altima sedan line at the Canton, Mississippi, plant and cut weekend overtime for the NV van.
In Aguascalientes, Mexico, output of Nissan's Versa subcompact sedan and Kicks compact crossover also were halted until 23 March.
'We continue to work closely with our supplier partners to assess the impact of supply chain issues and minimize disruption for vehicle deliveries to our dealers and customers,' Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said.
The impact has been widespread, but not universal. Hyundai Motor America said that its plant in Montgomery, Alabama, so far is operating normally.
'The current supply chain issues represent an unusual combination of factors, including shipping constraints, chip shortages and rising consumer demand,' said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at CarExpert.com. 'While consumer demand was a key component in 2020's reduced new-car sales, production and distribution constraints will likely be the limiting factors for 2021.'
This is an edited version of a news story which appeared in Automotive News (subscription)