The chips are down in Ohio, with semiconductor shortage reaching the factory floor where Jeep builds its Gladiator truck. According to reports, the Stellantis plant responsible for assembly of the lantern-jawed pickup, Toledo South, will halt the models’ production next week.
Wrangler production is not affected. For now.
“Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry,” a Stellantis spokesperson said in a statement to local media.
Beyond all the marketing doublespeak, it sounds like the company is allocating what chips it has on hand to vehicles that are in the most demand or making bank in terms of profit. While no one will suggest the Gladiator is an unprofitable vehicle, it does sell at a slower pace than the Wrangler. Given a choice, Jeep is wise to leave production of the latter uninterrupted. There are marked differences between the two machines but there are also vast similarities, leading us to rightly assume some parts (like certain semiconductors) can be transferred from one assembly line to the other in a bid to keep the place humming.
Jeep is hardly in this boat by itself, with most of the industry coping with the chip shortage in one way or another. Images of bare and barren dealer lots are easy to find online, with inventory problems becoming the bane of sales staff across the nation. Ford has even floated the idea of shipping unfinished trucks to dealers and having the chips installed by their techs; this is presumably in an effort to populate lots with something other than sailboat fuel. For the record, your author thinks this is a terrible idea – techs are already overworked, dealers may be tempted to let unfinished trucks slip out the door (especially if they’re floorplanning the things), and customers might scream bloody murder if they can’t have that truck out there right now.
Meanwhile, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares last week told the media his company expects the chip shortage to easily stretch into the 2022 calendar year. Demand created from the pandemic has led to a tight supply of things, a situation expected to cost the industry billions of dollars this year alone.