LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – At the long-vacant Colgate plant in Clarksville, Ind., dozens of F-Series Ford pickup trucks are packed like sardines on the surface parking lot.
The Super Duty trucks have also been spotted off State Road 62 near the River Ridge Commerce Center and as far away as the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, some 53 miles north of Kentucky Truck Plant, where the pickups are built.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed the parked trucks are being stored while the company works to procure computer chips to install modules and deliver finished vehicles to dealers.
It’s another consequence of the global shortage of semiconductors, which has already cut at least 8 weeks of production from Louisville’s two Ford plants in 2021.
“Our teams continue prioritizing key vehicle lines for production, making the most of our available semiconductor allocation and will continue finding unique solutions around the world so we can provide as many high-demand vehicles as possible to our customers as dealers,” Felker said in an emailed statement. “Ford will build and hold these vehicles for a number of weeks, then ship the vehicles to dealers once the modules are available and comprehensive quality checks are complete.”
The shortage of computer chips has already cost at least eight weeks of production in 2021 between Ford’s two Louisville plants. Most of the down time has been at Louisville Assembly Plant, which produces the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair.
The compact SUVs aren’t as big a seller or as profitable for Ford as the F-Series trucks.
Industry consulting firm AutoForecast Solutions estimates that North American automakers have lost 882,000 vehicles so far because of the chip shortage, with General Motors and Ford accounting for more than half of the lost production.
As of the end of March, Ford had about 22,000 vehicles, primarily in North America, that could not be fully built because they were “awaiting installation of chip-related components,” Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said on the company’s April 28 earnings call.
Lawler also said the chip shortage would cost Ford half of its planned vehicle production in the April-June quarter after the automaker lost 17% in the January-March period.
“The semiconductor shortage and the impact to production will get worse before it gets better,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said on the April 28 call. “In fact, we believe our second quarter will be the trough for this year.”
While the shortage of computer chips started earlier in the year, Ford was set back again on March 19 when chipmaker Renesas, which manufacturers about two-thirds of all chips in the auto industry, experienced a “significant fire” at its facility in Japan, Farley said on the call.
He said it will take the Japanese company until July to fully ramp up chip production. Nine “tier 1” suppliers who sell parts to Ford plants source their computer chips from Renesas, Farley said.