Automotive-grade microchip supplier Renesas Electronics Corp. will resume full production at two of its plants in Japan next week after it was forced to shutter the facilities following an earthquake in the country’s northeastern city of Sendai.
Three Renesas plants were temporarily taken offline after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused damage to infrastructure, a tsunami and rolling blackouts across the country on Wednesday. Two of its plants, located in Naka and Takasaki resumed partial test run production on Thursday, reports Automotive News, and is expected to return to full production capacity by March 23rd. A third Renesas plant in Yonezawa restarted all production processes on Friday.
Renesas is a major supplier of automotive-grade semiconductor chips and is a key partner of General Motors, having received a 2021 GM Supplier of the Year award this week. This isn’t the first time a disaster at a Renesas plant has affected GM’s chip supply, with a fire at the company’s Naka plant last spring contributing to severe semiconductor shortages at GM and rival automakers like Ford and Volkswagen.
This latest microchip production setback 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 over the past year as demand for automotive-grade microchips far outstrips available supply.
GM announced last November that it would work with as many as seven major microchip suppliers to develop three new microcontroller families, which will reduce the complexity and cost involved in implementing electronic features in current-day vehicles and reduce the automaker’s dependence on outside suppliers.