DETROIT — General Motors will deactivate nearly all of its assembly plants in North America starting Monday as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the production of semiconductor chips overseas.
GM said its Arlington assembly in Texas, where it manufactures its highly profitable full-size SUVs, will run regular production next week with Flint Assembly in Michigan, where it manufactures its heavy-duty pickup, the Bowling Green Assembly, in Kentucky. Where it manufactures a part of its Corvette and Lansing Grand River assembly in Michigan, where it will make some Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Blackwing cars.
But all other assembly plants in North America will be idle from Monday.
GM spokesman Dan Flores referred to the Chevy Bolt recall issues, referring to that plant’s closure, saying, “All the announcements we made today are related to a shortage of chips, the only plant not related to that, That’s the Orion Assembly.”
The industry is already facing a global shortage of chips, which have been used in a variety of car parts since earlier this year. Chips are also used in small electronics and as more workers and children stayed home from work and school during the pandemic last year, demand for personal electronics, such as laptops, rose and created shortages of chips.
Automakers have either had to temporarily stop production or build vehicles to wait for chip parts to finish production and ship the vehicles to showrooms. New-car inventory remains tight and prices are high.
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“Covid is exacerbating supply shortages in countries that produce semiconductor chips,” Flores said. “But I can’t say whether it’s because the infection rate among employees is high or if this government is banning plants because of the pandemic.”
Activity will continue at places like Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana and Silao Assembly in Mexico, where light-duty full-size pickups are made even when production halts.
“During the downtime, we will repair and ship unfinished vehicles to and from several affected plants, including Fort Wayne and Silao, to help meet strong customer demand for our products,” Flores said. “While the situation remains complex and very fluid, we remain confident in our team’s ability to continue to find creative solutions to minimize the impact on our highest-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles.”
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Here are the production changes that GM is making at the affected plants:
- One week of downtime will begin Monday at the Fort Wayne and Silao assembly plants. GM is expected to resume regular production on September 13.
- Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, where GM makes its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups and Chevrolet Express and GMC Savannah full-size vans, will take downtime for two weeks starting Monday.
- The CAMI Assembly (Canada) and the San Luis Potosí Assembly (Mexico) will take two additional weeks of downtime through the week of September 27. Production of the Chevrolet Equinox midsize SUV, which GM builds at both facilities, is down as of Aug. 16. San Luis Potosi also makes the GMC Terrain midsize SUV.
- The Lansing Delta Township Assembly in Michigan adds two weeks of downtime starting Monday. GM expects to resume production in the week of September 20. GM Lansing makes the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave mid-size SUVs in Delta Township.
- Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee, where GM builds the GMC Acadia, Cadillac XT5 and Cadillac XT6 midsize SUVs, adds two weeks of downtime starting Monday. GM is expected to resume production in the week of September 20.
- It will take two additional weeks for the Chevrolet Blazer midsize SUV to be produced during the week of September 13 at Ramos assembly in Mexico. In addition, the production of Equinox will be reduced by October 4. Chevrolet Equinox production is down since Aug 16. .
“We now know what we announced this morning. I can’t predict whether something will be announced next week or if there will be additional impacts. We manage it on a day-to-day basis,” Flores said.
Follow Jamie L. Lareau on Twitter: @Jalerouan.