Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will temporarily stop production at two of its main factories in the UK due to a lack of computer chips, as a last sign of the difficulties the global car industry is facing during the pandemic.
The company, which has the largest car production operation in the UK, confirmed to the Guardian that it will have a “limited period of non-production” at its Castle Bromwich plants in the West Midlands and Halewood in Merseyside from Monday.
It is understood that the shutdown is scheduled to last at least a week, although the company will continue to monitor its chip supply before committing to a reopening date.
The shutdown highlights the struggles of automakers around the world to secure a supply of computer chips, also known as semiconductors, amid a global shortage that has affected companies from Microsoft and Sony, makers of Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, to the manufacturer. of phones. Samsung and the “miners” of cryptocurrencies who need computer chips to solve puzzles that earn them bitcoin and other digital assets.
The automotive industry is accustomed to running weak just-in-time supply chains that minimize the amount of cash tied up in factory warehouses. However, the global nature of the chip shortage has strained carmakers as they compete directly with supply technology companies.
“The car industry doesn’t matter much in the semiconductor industry,” said a source from another carmaker.
On Wednesday, French carmaker Renault said the industry was struggling to secure its chip supply, but warned the outage could continue for months into the summer.
JLR is still considering whether employees in the affected factories will be included in the government scheme, which pays up to 80% of workers’ wages if they cannot work because of Covid-19. The program will run until the end of September.
Models affected by the temporary stoppage will be the Jaguar XE and XF executive cars and the F-Type sports car, all built at Castle Bromwich and the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque in Halewood.
Production will continue at JLR’s Solihull plant, which produces various Range Rover models plus the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. JLR’s international factories in Slovakia – where its new Defender is manufactured – Brazil and China are not yet affected.
A JLR spokeswoman said: “Like other carmakers, we are currently facing a disruption to the Covid-19 supply chain, including the global availability of semiconductors, which has an impact on our production programs and capacity. to meet the global demand for some of the vehicles.
“We work closely with affected suppliers to resolve issues and minimize the impact on customer orders whenever possible.”