One year ago, millions of Americans were confident they had little to fear from a faraway viral epidemic called COVID-19.
In February 2021, many around the auto industry are confident that their livelihoods will not be affected by the spread of the global shortage in microchips.
But complications continue to mount, due to the wide array of semiconductor applications in modern cars and trucks.
AutoForecast Solutions has increased its estimate of how many vehicles will be lost as a result of the supply line problem.
Globally, the forecasting firm said last week, the industry has already announced volume cuts totaling 680,350 vehicles — up from 202,000 vehicles one month ago. AFS forecasts that number could grow to 1,321,701 as other auto plants and their supply chains run out of chips, with as many as 338,822 vehicles falling out of North American production plans.
At last week's NADA Show, Kia executives assured dealers that the company believes it has secured microchip supply to introduce new models in the volumes it wants this year. Acura executives said they are keeping a close eye on the shortage ahead of a critical new product wave.
President Joe Biden weighed in on the matter last week, vowing to sign an executive order to help improve the U.S. supply of microchips and stimulate U.S. chip production.
A frozen Tundra
Toyota has been forced to reduce output of its full-size Tundras in San Antonio, even as dealers clamor for more of them. Pickups might once have been simple creatures of analog mechanics, but no more. Riding on the Tundra chassis is a drivetrain that needs superconductors in several spots.
Hauling more electronics
Ford's decision to scale back F-150 output because of the chip shortage says a lot about the nature of modern-day pickups. Cabin amenities and driver comfort and connectedness are becoming as important for competitiveness as durability and towing muscle — and it all requires chips. The F-150's 12-inch center screen uses multiple high-resolution cameras to create a 360-degree overhead view.
No ordinary Caddy
Cadillac's popular XT4 crossover halted production in Fairfax, Kan., one of several GM plants to go down. GM has not said specifically where chips are missing, but the XT4's engine includes a three-step sliding camshaft that enables advanced cylinder deactivation for fuel efficiency, an electric purge pump that helps drive emissions compliance and an active thermal management design.