Lack of Microchips, Seat Foam, and More Halts Production

First Up 03/22/21

Lack of Microchips, Seat Foam, and More Halts Production

Deepening shortages of key auto parts such as microchips and seat foam are combining with packed ports and a cargo crunch to shut down auto assembly lines — even as dealers clamor for inventory to meet strong demand from increasingly confident consumers. Automotive News reports that production complications are hitting Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Volvo, the automakers said last week. Some said they will suspend production lines as they await parts, and others are selectively choosing which models to produce. Some are attempting creative workarounds, such as postponing the installation of certain electronic modules until after a vehicle is built. "The current supply chain issues represent an unusual combination of factors, including shipping constraints, chip shortages and rising consumer demand," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at "While consumer demand was a key component in 2020's reduced new-car sales, production and distribution constraints will likely be the limiting factors for 2021." Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

U.S. Senators Press Biden to Set End Date for Gas-Powered Car Sales

California’s two U.S. senators are urging President Joe Biden to set a firm date to phase-out gas-powered passenger vehicles as the White House grapples with how to rewrite vehicle emissions rules slashed under President Donald Trump, reports Reuters. In an unreported letter going to Biden Monday, Democratic Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein called on Biden “to follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.” They also urged Biden to restore California’s authority to set clean car standards. In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order directing the state’s air resources agency to require all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California to be zero-emission by 2035. Biden’s campaign in 2020 declined to endorse a specific date to end gas-powered vehicle sales, but he has vowed to dramatically boost electric vehicles and charging stations. Read more here (Source: Reuters). 

Store Count, Throughput Down in '20

The number of U.S. dealerships slid slightly in 2020 after a small gain the year before, while average new-vehicle sales per franchise, or throughput, tumbled last year amid a sales slowdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, Automotive News' annual dealership census found. The dealership count fell 0.3 percent to 18,263 stores as of Jan. 1, while new-vehicle franchises dropped 0.7 percent, or by 232, to 31,816. The fall in store count was led by declines of 36 dealerships for General Motors, 30 for Ford Motor Co. and 14 for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now called Stellantis after FCA's merger with PSA Group. The domestic-brand declines were partially offset by a 49-store gain among standalone dealerships representing import brands. The number of shuttered dealerships industrywide ended up being far lower than feared last March and April when sales plunged during the early days of the coronavirus crisis. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Lexus Reveals Limited-Run 2022 F Sport Performance

The name is long. The order list is short. The Detroit Bureau got a first look at the new 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance model barely a month ago. Now, the Japanese luxury brand is adding a special Limited Edition package of which just 500 will be produced. For those who like the idea of having unique features — like the personalized number plate on the center console — the good news is that all 500 of the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Launch Edition models will be earmarked “exclusively for North America.” In a statement, Lexus said, “Standing apart from the standard IS 500, the 2022 IS 500 Launch Edition interior builds upon Takumi craftsmanship with elevated interior materials, including sporty two-tone Black & Gray Ultrasuede trimmed front and rear seats, door accents, and center console.” Other special features include silver ash wood details on the otherwise leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as updates to the instrument cluster. Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

Alfa Dealers See Signs That Stellantis Will Invest to Revitalize Brand in U.S.

The future is getting clearer for Alfa Romeo's U.S. dealers, reports Automotive News. Larry Dominique, Alfa's newly appointed North America head, is connecting with retailers to express his commitment to the Italian brand that has dealt with a dearth of product and low sales since its U.S. comeback began in 2014. It now operates under the expansive, 14-brand umbrella of Stellantis, which was formed after the January merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group. Dominique, who shifted his focus to Alfa this month after spending the last few years plotting a U.S. return for Peugeot, is making his rounds to show dealers that the new company will continue to back them. Dominique's move to Alfa after being PSA's North America chief also means the quest to reestablish Alfa in the U.S. will have one fewer roadblock now that Peugeot's expansion is on ice. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 


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