Ford shuts down a plant because it can't find enough computers

Ford Escape SUVs down the production line at the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. A computer chip shortage has shut down the plant this week.

A computer chip shortage has shut down the Louisville, Kentucky, Ford plant this week, the first shutdown because of an industry-wide problem that is expected to spread to many other auto plants in the coming months.

The Louisville plant employs 3,800 hourly workers, who will receive about 75% of their normal pay during the one-week shutdown. It assembles the Ford Escape and the Lincoln version of that SUV, the Corsair.

"The global semiconductor shortage is presenting challenges and production disruptions -- for the global auto industry, including Ford, which could have a significant knock-on effect on jobs and the economy given the importance of auto manufacturing," said Ford in a statement.

Automakers cut back orders for computer chips early last year when the pandemic slammed the brakes on auto sales and production because of temporary plant closings.

When car sales bounced back sooner than expected, it left the industry struggling with a chip shortage. That was exacerbated by increased demand for laptops during the stay-at-home era -- and the electronic and computer industries snapping up the excess supply of chips, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank.

"It's temporary but it's not going to be short-term," she said. The problems are likely to last throughout the first three months or so of the year. Supplies should hopefully be back to normal in the second quarter.

The average car has between 50 to 150 chips in it, she said. And all the chips are needed to proceed with assembly of the cars.

The problem is not just affecting US auto plants -- plants in Europe and Asia are also dealing with chip shortages.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.