Ford is cutting two shifts at its Chicago Assembly facility due to ongoing automotive silicon shortages. The facility, which produces both the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, will be operating only a single shift next week, Automotive News reports.
The shortage has already forced Ford to idle its Louisville Assembly site twice, halting production of the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair CUVs. Production was expected to be stalled for only a week earlier in January, but supply did not recover sufficiently to keep the line running.
Poor chip availability has plagued automakers since late fall due to increased demand and reduced supply of silicon across multiple industries. In the automotive sector, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru and Volkswagen have all been impacted to varying degrees.
The lack of supply is the result of both reduced output and soaring demand for consumer electronics during the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which is the world's largest contract chipmaker, faced unprecedented shifts in demand last year as customer buying habits changed in response to the pandemic.
TSMC said earlier in January that it was operating at capacity to fill orders, promising that it would do its best to re-allocate production to meet automotive demand. In 2020, automotive only accounted only for 3% of TSMC's sales; smartphones (48%) and high-performance applications (33%) were its largest markets.
Automotive OEMs reduced their orders significantly, especially in the second and third quarters of 2020, prompting TSMC to pivot to other buyers. The massive upswing in automotive demand in the 4th quarter proved overwhelming for an already-constrained supply.