The auto industry as a whole continues to grapple with myriad production and supply issues, and GM is certainly no exception.
One of the most impactful factors thus far has been the global microchip shortage, which has forced GM to place constraints on a range of different features. A few of the features most heavily impacted by the shortage have been heated seats, ventilated seats, and heated steering wheels, with GM placing constraints for these features across multiple model lines for all four U.S. brands (Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, and GMC). Although many of the features are eligible for a retrofit after the fact, as in after the vehicle has been delivered to customers, feature constraints as a result of the chip shortage are still a common theme these days.
Although GM has sought to prioritize available microchip supplies to keep lines rolling, parts shortages can still force entire plants to come to a standstill. Just a few recent examples include GM Silao plant in Mexico, which produces the Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, as well as the GM Bowling Green plant in Kentucky, which produces the Chevy Corvette.
Transportation issues have also been common. One recent example was reported over the summer, at which time available inventory for the Buick Envision took a hit as a result of a shortage in transport vessels, limiting GM’s capability to ship new units to North America from the GM-SAIC Jinqiao production facility in Shanghai, China.
Which brings us to yet another recurring issue – plant shutdowns. Prior to the transportation issue outlined above, the GM-SAIC Jinqiao was taken offline as the result of an outbreak of COVID-19. GM previously shuttered production operations in the U.S. in 2020 as well. More recently, a worker at the GM Wentzville plant in Missouri reportedly tested positive for monkeypox late in August, and although production was unaffected, it goes to show just how delicate the situation is.
All told, GM is working through these issues on “a weekly basis,” per a statement made by GM CEO Mary Barra in July. Additionally, The General is aiming to shore up its own supply of microchips through the development of its own family of microcontrollers. And progress certainly has been made in the last year, with GM recently announcing in October that it cleared out three-quarters of its 95,000-unit vehicle backlog. That said, some estimates say that the ongoing automotive supply shortages may last well into 2024, and as such, customers should be prepared to adjust their expectations accordingly.