Wentzville, MO – The General Motors assembly plant here is shutting down for two weeks, along with other North American plants, due to a worldwide semiconductor chip shortage.
UAW Local 2250 members make GM’s Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups, and the Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans at the Wentzville plant.
In a memo to the 3,500 workers at Wentzville, shared on Local 2250’s website and Facebook page, GM said the plant will close the weeks of March 29 and April 5.
GM also is moving up its launch construction downtime at that plant by about two weeks. It will now be shuttered from May 24 to July 19, instead of the shutdown starting sometime in June.
Moving up the downtime will give GM more time to build products to meet customer demand in the remainder of the year, GM wrote in the memo to workers. It said portions of the Wentzville plant will remain active to support limited projects.
SHORTAGE IMPACTING OTHER AUTOMAKERS
The global chip shortage has upset production for a number of automakers.
Ford Motor Co. shut down or canceled shifts at a half-dozen North American plants in January and February.
Stellantis, formerly Fiat-Chrysler, shuttered plants in Mexico and Canada through the end of January, but most of its North American facilities ran normally in February.
CAUSED BY PANDEMIC
Demand for semiconductor chips is up in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and increased demand for laptop computers and other personal electronics. Cars use the chips in a variety of applications, including to monitor engine performance, manage steering and automatic windows, plus sensors used in parking and entertainment systems. Analysts say a single car part can contain as many as 500 to 1,500 chips.
The chip shortage was caused by a combination of factors. North American auto plants were shut for two months last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and chip orders were canceled. At the same time, demand surged from the consumer electronics industry as more people worked from home and played video games.
GM spokesman David Barnas said the chip shortage could shave up to $2 billion off GM’s profits this year.
(Information from Reuters news service and the Detroit Free Press.)