Last year, amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, General Motors transformed its electronics components plant in Kokomo, Indiana into a ventilator production facility as part of a contract with Ventec. Now the automaker is using the Kokomo facility for yet another side project, this time storing built-shy Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks in the 2.6 million square foot plant’s sprawling parking lot.
According to Inside Indiana Business, GM is currently stockpiling “hundreds” of partially completed pickup trucks at the Kokomo plant. The trucks are being shipped from the nearby Fort Wayne Assembly plant and are awaiting microchips and other electronic components before they can be shipped to dealers. This strategy, referred to by GM as “build shy”, allows the automaker to keep its truck plants up and running even if it doesn’t have all the chips it needs to finish the vehicles. Full-size pickups like the Chevy Silverado represent the automaker’s most profitable and best-selling products.
GM has fenced off an area of the Kokomo parking lot capable of housing between 5,000 and 7,000 built-shy pickups. The automaker is also stockpiling partially-finished vehicles at countless other parking lots across the country, including at Michigan State University and various lots situated across central Texas. Stored vehicles have also been spotted at GM plants and facilities in Mexico, Missouri and Illinois.
Ironically, the Kokomo Plant was formerly a semiconductor manufacturing facility. GM stopped producing chips there in 2017, saying the “technical capabilities of the current equipment set does not allow the business to compete at a global level.” The automaker also said at the time that it was “cost prohibitive to invest in new equipment to produce semiconductors in GM Kokomo due to the available capacity and capability of existing suppliers to meet demand for semiconductors.” The chip suppliers referenced in this statement, many of which are located overseas, are now the ones scrambling to fulfill demand and warning OEMs the shortage may not let up until well into 2023.
A former GM Kokomo employee, Denise Dodd, told Inside Indiana Business the electronics manufacturing equipment at Kokomo has long since been removed.
“I would like to see them bring back chip manufacturing, but all of the equipment has been removed and to work under a clean room environment, everything would have to be replaced,” Dodd said.