Production at Kia’s massive assembly plant in West Point will stop for two days later this week because the company is worried the assembly line will not have enough semiconductor chips to make vehicles.
The factory, which employs about 2,700 workers, will shut down Thursday and Friday because of “concerns” about the availability of the chips, said Patrick Sands, a spokesman for the South Korean-based company in a written statement.
With worldwide supplies of the chips tight, Kia joins other automakers in scrambling to cope.
More than one-third of automakers have halted some manufacturing, at least temporarily, according to Car and Driver. Others have shifted production, making more of vehicles that are less affected by the shortage, the magazine reported.
The chips are used widely in vehicles, as well in myriad other electronic devices. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last week met with top industry executives to talk about ways to ease the crisis.
The shortfall in chips started last year when the pandemic disrupted manufacturing as well as the supply chains that carry chips around the world. Shortages were made worse over the winter by a fire at a chip-making plant and weather problems in Texas.
The practice of “just in time” manufacturing, in which companies count on the arrival of materials only as they are needed, made many automakers more vulnerable to the shortages since they intentionally kept little inventory on hand.
“We will continue to closely monitor supply chain conditions in an effort to minimize the impact to our team members,” Sands said in a statement Monday.
[[[info box text]]]
The plant in West Point makes the Telluride and Sorento crossover utility vehicles as well as the K5 sedan. It has a capacity for producing 340,000 vehicles a year.