Many companies have had to scale back car production due to a global computer chip shortage, but CNBC is reporting that the shortages are finally hitting America’s most popular vehicle: the Ford F-150. According to the report, Ford is temporarily cutting the number of shifts in its truck production plants in half: its Dearborn, Michigan, factory is going from three shifts a week to one, and its Kansas City, Missouri, plant is going from three shifts to two.
CNBC quotes Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker as saying Ford expects the plants to return to normal operation in a couple of weeks, and the company is “working closely with suppliers to address potential production constraints tied to the global semiconductor shortage.”
This isn’t the first time microchip shortages have hit the car industry, or even Ford. Volkswagen had to change car production in December due to the shortage, and Honda and GM have also had to cut back. Nissan and Toyota have had to slow their truck production lines as well. For Ford’s part, earlier this month, it had to shut down the factory that made Ford Escapes and Lincoln Corsairs for a week because it couldn’t get the computer parts it needed. Bloomberg has an overview of how most of Japan’s automakers are affected one way or another.
While the shortages are hitting the entire industry, the F-150 is a big deal in the US, where the iconic F-series is the bestselling vehicle in the country. They’re also Ford’s most profitable vehicles, so making fewer of them isn’t likely to be a decision the motor company would make unless it had to.
We here at The Verge often ask the question “what’s a computer?” but I suspect most people wouldn’t answer “the F-150.” But modern cars have computer systems for almost every component these days, from digital speedometers to vital vehicle functions like controlling emissions and emergency brake systems. If Ford, or other car manufacturers, isn’t able to get the computer chips it needs, it won’t be able to build functioning modern cars.
Of course, the chip shortages aren’t just hitting the car industry — AMD, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Sony were famously not able to meet demand with their launches last year, and Qualcomm’s CEO is warning that it’s not just the latest, highest-tech products that will see shortages.