GM extends vehicle production cuts due to global chip shortage

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co said on Tuesday it was extending production cuts at three North American plants until at least mid-March due to the global semiconductor chip shortage, while vehicles at two other factories would only be partially built.

GM, whose shares dipped 1.5% after the announcement, did not disclose the impact volumes or say which supplier and vehicle parts were affected by the chip shortage.

But it said it would focus on keeping production running at plants building its highest-profit vehicles: full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. GM said it intended to make up as much lost production as possible once the shortage chip eased.

“Semiconductor supply remains an issue that is facing the entire industry,” GM spokesman David Barnas said. “GM’s plan is to leverage every available semiconductor to build and ship our most popular and in-demand products.”

GM said it was extending downtime at its U.S. plant in Fairfax, Kansas; its Canadian factory in Ingersoll, Ontario; and its Mexican facility in San Luis Petosi until mid-March when it would reassess the situation, he said.

In addition, GM would build but leave incomplete for final assembly vehicles at Wentzville, Missouri, and its Mexican plant at Ramos Arizpe.

GM vehicles affected by the idled plants include the Chevrolet Malibu sedan, Cadillac XT4 SUV, Chevy Equinox, and GMC Terrain SUVs. Vehicles to be left incomplete for now included the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon pickups and Chevy Blazer SUV.

This week, GM had said it was idling the three factories where it has now extended downtime and said it would halve production at a plant in South Korea.

The shortage stems from a confluence of factors as auto manufacturers, which shut plants for two months during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, compete against the sprawling consumer electronics industry for chip supplies.

Consumers have stocked up on laptops, gaming consoles and other electronic products during the pandemic, leading to tight chip supplies. They have also bought more cars than industry officials expected last spring, further straining supplies.

The chip shortage has affected many automakers, including Toyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis, Ford Motor Co, Renault, Subaru, Nissan, Honda and Mazda.

Asian chipmakers are rushing to boost production but say the supply gap will take many months to plug. German chipmaker Infineon said the shortage would worsen in the near term. The chip shortage is expected to cut global output in the first quarter by more than 670,000 vehicles and last into the third quarter, IHS Markit said.

AutoForecast Solutions on Tuesday updated its estimate for lost production this year, saying the global industry could lose almost 1.3 million vehicles. GM could lose an estimated 111,450 vehicles, the forecasting firm said.

Honda and Nissan said on Tuesday they would sell 250,000 fewer cars in total this financial year due to the chip shortage.

Ford said last week the shortage was hitting production of its highly profitable F-150 pickup trucks, saying it could lose 10% to 20% of planned first-quarter vehicle production and earnings could fall by $1 billion to $2.5 billion.

Stellantis said it would idle its Canadian minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, for three weeks until the end of February.

Taiwan, home to the world’s largest contract chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), is at the center of efforts to resolve the shortage. U.S. officials discussed the issue with their Taiwanese counterparts last week.

Chinese officials said on Tuesday they had met with auto and chip companies, asking them to help ease the shortage. French state officials meet with auto and electronics industry leaders on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

GM hit by chip shortage, to cut production at four plants

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co became the latest automaker hit by the global shortage of semiconductor chips as the U.S. automaker said on Wednesday it will take down production next week at four assembly plants.

GM said it will cut production entirely during the week of Feb. 8 at plants in Fairfax, Kansas; Ingersoll, Ontario; and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It will also run its Bupyeong 2 plant in South Korea at half capacity that week.

GM did not disclose how much volume it would lose or which supplier was affected by the chip shortage, but said the focus has been on keeping production running at plants building the highest-profit vehicles – full-size pickup trucks and SUVs as well as the Chevrolet Corvette sports car. GM said it intends to make up as much lost production as possible.

AutoForecast Solutions, which tracks production, estimated GM’s combined lost volume would total almost 10,000 vehicles next week.

“Despite our mitigation efforts, the semiconductor shortage will impact GM production in 2021,” GM spokesman David Barnas told Reuters in a statement.

“Semiconductor supply for the global auto industry remains very fluid,” he added. “Our supply chain organization is working closely with our supply base to find solutions for our suppliers’ semiconductor requirements and to mitigate impacts on GM.”

Affected GM vehicles include the Chevrolet Malibu sedan, Cadillac XT4 SUV, Chevy Equinox and Trax, and GMC Terrain SUVs and the Buick Encore small crossover vehicle.

The chip shortage has led several automakers, including Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co and Stellantis NV, to cut vehicle production.

Mazda Motor Corp is considering cutting its global output by a total of 34,000 vehicles in February and March due to the shortage, sources told Reuters on Wednesday. Nissan said on Tuesday it cut three days of production on the truck line at its Canton, Mississippi, plant.

The chip shortage is expected to cause production in the global auto sector to be 672,000 vehicles lower than anticipated in the first quarter, IHS Markit said on Wednesday. The forecasting firm expects the shortage to last into the third quarter.

AutoForecast Solutions announced lost production globally so far due to the shortage has totaled 564,000 vehicles and estimated the total impact this year could be 964,000 vehicles.

Taiwan, home to the world’s largest contract chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) and other major tech firms, is at the center of efforts to resolve the shortage.

Taiwanese chipmakers have promised to increase production and the government has urged them to address the problem.

Taiwan economic officials will hold a virtual meeting with the United States at the end of this week to discuss supply chains, with semiconductor firms present.

On Tuesday, 15 U.S. senators, including some from key automotive states like Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana and South Carolina, urged the White House to work with Congress to address the chip shortage.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

GM shares jump on plans for electric delivery vehicle business

By Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co shares jumped on Tuesday to their highest level since the company’s post-bankruptcy IPO in 2010, as the automaker announced its entry into the growing electric delivery vehicle business.

After Chief Executive Mary Barra outlined plans for GM’s first BrightDrop commercial vans to be delivered to FedEx later this year, GM shares rose as high as $48.95 in morning trading, pushing the company’s market cap over $68 billion.

The new BrightDrop delivery business will put GM squarely in competition in the commercial sector with cross-town rival Ford Motor Co, as well as startups such as Rivian, Arrival and Canoo that are developing electric commercial vehicles for customers ranging from Amazon to Hyundai Motor.

Fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, GM estimates the U.S. market for parcel and food delivery will climb to more than $850 billion by 2025. It is one sector that EV sales leader Tesla has yet to crack.

Barra said BrightDrop will offer delivery and logistics customers such as FedEx a range of products and services that leverage the automaker’s expertise in electrification and fleet management.

The BrightDrop EV600 will use a version of GM’s Ultium battery system that will power many of the company’s future electric vehicles, including the Hummer EV pickup and the Cadillac Lyriq crossover.

Barra introduced BrightDrop in an online keynote address at the CES annual tech and gadget show.

As part of Barra’s presentation, GM design chief Mike Simcoe hosted a virtual unveiling of two battery-powered Cadillac concepts: A flying car and a boxy shuttle with sliding doors. Simcoe said Cadillac also is working on a luxury electric two-seater.

In a pre-show briefing, Pam Fletcher, GM vice president of global innovation, said the BrightDrop EV600 is a large, purpose-built delivery van that will have a range of 250 miles (400 km) between charges, with a long list of advanced safety features and built-in internet connectivity.

Unlike Cruise, the San Francisco self-driving startup that is majority-owned by GM and is developing a robotaxi business, BrightDrop does not plan to operate its own vehicle fleet. It will focus on supplying electric vans and related services to commercial customers.

A source familiar with details of the EV600 said it will share basic underbody architecture with the Hummer EV and a variety of other large GM trucks and SUVs that will hit the market over the next three years.

The first 500 units will go to FedEx by the end of the year, with deliveries to other customers starting in early 2022, Fletcher said.

The BrightDrop commercial van family could eventually include a smaller model designed for medium-distance deliveries and a larger model designed for rapid loading and unloading, she said.

In November, GM said it would challenge Tesla with increased spending and accelerated vehicle production targets. The higher investment will be funded by expanded pickup and SUV production.

GM said it planned to increase spending on electric and autonomous vehicles to $27 billion by 2023, up 35% from previously disclosed plans. The Detroit automaker will offer 30 EVs globally by 2025 and wants to exceed annual sales of 1 million EVs in China and the United States by then.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Richard Pullin, Dan Grebler and Bernadette Baum)

GM hits reverse on Trump effort to bar California emissions rules

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors said on Monday it was reversing course and will no longer back the Trump administration’s effort to bar California from setting its own emissions rules in an ongoing court fight.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in a letter to environmental groups it was “immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”

The dramatic rejection of Trump came as GM sought to work with President-elect Joe Biden, who has made boosting electric vehicles (EVs) a top priority. The Detroit automaker has laid out an ambitious strategy to boost EV sales and last week said it will increase spending on EVs and autonomous vehicles by 35% from previous disclosed plans.

The announcement reflects corporate America’s move to engage quickly with the incoming Democratic administration.

Barra said she believes “the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions.”

The White House did not immediately comment.

In October 2019, GM joined Toyota Motor Corp, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and other automakers in backing the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles.

California and 22 other states and environmental groups challenged the Trump administration’s determination that federal law bars California from setting stiff tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates.

Barra was among corporate and labor leaders that met virtually last week with Biden.

Speaking on Monday, Barra said she was “confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future.”

The Trump administration in March finalized a rollback of fuel efficiency standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts in Obama administration rules it discarded.

Other automakers, such as Ford Motor Co, Honda Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, which announced a deal with California in 2019 on emissions requirements that was finalized in August, did not intervene on the administration’s side in the California fight.

Toyota said Monday that “given the changing circumstances, we are assessing the situation, but remain committed to our goal of a consistent, unitary set of fuel economy standards applicable in all 50 states.”

Other automakers backing the Trump administration include Hyundai Motor Co , Mazda, Nissan Motor Co, Kia Motors Corp and Subaru Co.

GM had drawn the ire of many California officials and environmental groups.

Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said “GM tried to prevent California from protecting its people from tailpipe pollution. They were wrong. Now the other automakers must follow GM and withdraw support for (President Donald) Trump’s attack on clean cars.”

In September, California Governor Newsom said the state planned to ban the sale of new gasoline powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035 in a bold move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

California is the largest U.S. auto market, accounting for about 11% of all U.S. vehicle sales, and many states choose to adopt its green vehicle mandates.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown)

GM asks judge to reinstate racketeering case against rival Fiat Chrysler

By Nick Carey and Sanjana Shivdas

(Reuters) – General Motors Co. on Monday asked a U.S. federal judge to reinstate a racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA), saying it has new information on foreign accounts used in an alleged bribery scheme involving its smaller rival and union leaders.

In its filing to U.S. District Judge Paul Borman, GM says the scheme, which it alleges occurred between FCA executives and former United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders, “is much broader and deeper than previously suspected or revealed as it involved FCA Group apparently using various accounts in foreign countries … to control corrupt individuals by compensating and corrupting those centrally involved in the scheme to harm GM.”

Last month, Borman threw out the racketeering lawsuit, saying the No. 1 U.S. automaker’s alleged injuries were not caused by FCA’s alleged violations.

GM alleged FCA bribed UAW officials over many years to corrupt the bargaining process and gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars. GM was seeking “substantial damages” that one analyst said could have totaled at least $6 billion.

“These new facts warrant amending the court’s prior judgment, so we are respectfully asking the court to reinstate the case,” GM said in a statement.

“FCA will continue to defend itself vigorously and pursue all available remedies in response to GM’s attempts to resurrect this groundless lawsuit,” FCA said in a statement.

In affidavits accompanying GM’s filing, attorneys for the automaker said “reliable information concerning the existence of foreign bank accounts” used in the alleged scheme had only come to light recently.

“The UAW is unaware of any allegations regarding illicit off-shore accounts as claimed,” by GM, the UAW said in a statement. “If GM actually has substantive information supporting its allegations, we ask that they provide it to us so we can take all appropriate actions.”

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Aurora Ellis and Steve Orlofsky)

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Tesla Inc had been given the green light to produce ventilators and other items needed during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” he said on Twitter.

(Reporting By Susan Heavey and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

GM will rehire 500 Michigan workers slated for layoffs

The GM logo is seen in Warren, Michigan, U.S. on October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors Co plans next year to rehire 500 Michigan assembly plant workers who are to be laid off in May, citing increased demand for larger vehicles, the company said on Wednesday.

GM said last week it planned to lay off 1,100 workers in May at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan. The company is moving production of the GMC Acadia mid-size SUV to Spring Hill, Tennessee, from the factory, which will build just two models, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs.

The company said that when it begins full production of the new versions of the two models in 2018, it would “bring back approximately 500 jobs to give the company flexibility to meet market demand.”

GM also said it would add 220 jobs at a plant in Romulus, Michigan, that is building 10-speed automatic transmissions, and it would retain 180 jobs by shifting Lansing workers to a Flint assembly plant to support pickup truck production.

The news comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is set to visit Michigan later on Wednesday to announce that his administration will reopen a review of fuel efficiency standards, a move that could help automakers sell more of their larger models. GM did not credit Trump with the decision to add jobs.

“We haven’t fundamentally changed any of our plans, but we continue to look for ways to improve our operations and find ways to help the country, grow jobs and support economic growth,” spokesman Pat Morrissey said.

He said Trump’s visit “gave us a positive venue to share good news for the state of Michigan – and specifically for our plants and people in Flint, Romulus and Lansing.”

The Detroit automaker in recent months has announced other U.S. job cuts and new investments. GM said in January it would invest another $1 billion in its U.S. factories.

Trump has urged GM and other automakers to build more cars in the United States as part of his pledge to boost the nation’s manufacturing jobs and discourage the industry from investing in Mexico.

GM said in November it would cut about 2,000 jobs when it ended the third shift at its Lordstown, Ohio, and Lansing Grand River plants in January. In December, it said it planned to cancel the second shift and cut nearly 1,300 jobs from its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in March.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)