Kia’s Georgia plant stays open despite global semiconductor shortage

A Kia Sorrento, like those made in West Point, on the road.  (Kia/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A Kia Sorrento, like those made in West Point, on the road. (Kia/TNS)

Despite some key gaps in the global supply chain, Kia Manufacturing said it has taken another look and decided it did not have to shut down for several days after all.

Company officials had previously said they would halt production at the massive West Point plant because of a worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips, the same scarcity that has caused other carmakers to cut back on their manufacturing.

“In further reviewing our inventory and production balance, we have decided not to stop production at this time,” said Rick Douglas, spokesman for the plant. “We will continue to review the situation and manage as needed.”

The West Point plant, which operates around the clock and employs about 2,700 people, has the capacity to churn out 340,000 vehicles in a year. But lacking one necessary part can stop an assembly line. Semiconductor chips are used for functions ranging from monitoring engine performance to running entertainment systems.

Chip making has been hobbled by the pandemic, a situation worsened by a fire at a giant chip plant in Japan in mid-March. A six-day blockage of the Suez Canal by a crossways container ship caused further disruptions.

The semiconductor shortage has hampered production around the world, including slowdowns in assembly plants of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler.

On Monday, the Alliance for Auto Innovation, which represents most major automakers, said the semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles being made in the United States this year.