For the third straight month, a chronic global shortfall in the production and shipping of crucial semiconductor chips has forced General Motors to impose a widespread series of shutdowns to its North American assembly operations. Nearly all plants on the continent, including the already-stopped CAMI Assembly in Ontario, Canada, and San Luis Potosi Assembly in Mexico, will cease operations for at least two weeks in September until the supply situation stabilizes. The shutdowns are in addition to a stoppage at the Orion Assembly facility outside Detroit, following the recall of more than 100,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs over possible fire risks associated with their LG Chem high-voltage battery packs. The auto industry has been the most visible casualty of the chip shortage, which has effected supplies at the retail level of everything from home appliances – the chips are essential for today’s “smart” refrigerators and washing machines – to laptops and tablets.
Under CEO Mary Barra, GM has pledged to go fully carbon neutral by 2040. GM spokesman Dan Flores told the Detroit Free Press last week that the chip shortage is a stubborn, lingering effect of COVID shutdowns across its international supplier chains. The phenomenon isn’t exclusive to GM – locally, the hugely expanded Subaru retailer had a single new vehicle in its expansive showroom last week. There are some ongoing bright spots: Production of high-profit SUVs and full-size pickups will continue, at least for now, at Arlington Assembly (Texas) and Flint Assembly (Michigan), respectively. And there was no immediate slowdown announced for Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky, the Chevrolet Corvette’s historic home; or at Lansing Grand River Assembly in Michigan, which produces performance versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and the newly unveiled Cadillac Blackwing sedans.