Semiconductor shortage triggers JLR shutdown

Production at Halewood and Castle Bromwich to pause for a week due to supply chain problems

By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, April 22, 2021 / Loading comments

Jaguar Land Rover has become the latest car manufacturer forced to halt production at its factories due to the global shortage of semiconductor computer chips. The British firm will cease work at its Halewood and Castle Bromwich plants for at least seven days, in response to a supply shortage of the wafer-thin components, which help to run everything from infotainment systems to driver assistance technology. Meaning they are as essential to modern cars as the oily bits. 

“Like other automotive manufacturers, we’re currently experiencing some Covid-19 supply-chain disruption, including the global availability of semiconductors, which is having an impact on our production schedules and our ability to meet global demand for some of our vehicles,” JLR said in a statement. “As a result, we’ve adjusted production schedules for certain vehicles, which means that our Castle Bromwich and Halewood manufacturing plants will be operating a limited period of non-production from Monday 26 April.”

While manufacturing will continue as normal at JLR’s Solihull plant, where the Range Rover, F-Pace and Velar are made, the temporary halting of lines at its two sister sites will significantly reduce output for the firm’s other models. Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport are made at Halewood, while Jaguar’s XE, XF and F-Type are made at Castle Bromwich. JLR said it is “working closely with affected suppliers to resolve the issues and minimise the impact on customer orders wherever possible,” but it seems likely that some buyers will have to wait a little longer than expected for their new cars.

This isn’t just a JLR problem, of course, but one that’s triggered an industry wide impact thanks to the recent reduction in car sales due to the pandemic, which coincided with a growing demand for consumer electronics as online habits changed in a world forced to work from home. Car manufacturers have found themselves at the back of the queue as the producers of semi conductors have favoured much larger orders from the likes of Apple. 

Some experts estimate that despite a quick bounce back in demand from consumers, 2021 global car production could be down by almost three-quarters of a million units due to the semiconductor issue alone. Expect a lot of internal re-thinking when it comes to supply chain management as a result, something Tesla in particular was forced to do when it suffered its own chip supply-related issues last year.

As you might expect, it’s a big deal for the wider tech world as well, with the semiconductor manufacturing industry worth $500 billion alone. Given the amount of time it requires to standup production, there’s no easy fix to the supply problem, either. JLR, like many of the world’s volume car makers, has been forced to resort to patience and hugely costly pauses instead. 

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