Renesas Electronics Corp., a microchip manufacturer that supplies components to the automotive industry, including General Motors, has halted operations at three of its manufacturing facilities in Japan following a massive 7.4-magnitude earthquake.
According to a recent report from Automotive News, Renesas halted operations at its Naka, Takasaki, and Yonezawa factories.
The 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday and was centered off the Pacific coast around the northeast of Japan, near the city of Sendai. The earthquake left four people dead and injured 170, as well as resulted in blackouts for more than 2 million households, a tsunami, and extensive transportation delays. The tremor was felt as far away as Tokyo.
Renesas said on Thursday that electricity had been restored to two of its plants that lost power, but it was unclear at this time when production could fully resume. With the plants offline, it will likely take several days to fully restart the facilities.
Additionally, it’s still unclear how the microchip production stoppage may impact GM. Renesas was recently named a GM 2021 Supplier of the Year award winner, as GM Authority covered previously.
The microchip production stoppage in Japan arrives as the automotive industry continues to grapple with an ongoing worldwide shortage of microchip components. Mainstream automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, have been forced to curtail production and reduce feature availability as demand for microchips far outstrips available supply.
To address the shortage, General Motors previously prioritized production of its most in-demand vehicles, namely its full-size SUVs and pickup trucks. GM has also cut a number of features from its vehicles lines, such as heated and ventilated seats, as well as heated steering wheels, although the automaker has since resolved these availability issues, at least to some degree.
Additionally, General Motors has announced that it is developing its own family of mircocontrollers to curb the effects of the current and possible future chip shortages.