Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will temporarily halt production at two of its main UK factories due to a shortage of computer chips, the latest sign of the difficulties the global automotive industry faces during the pandemic.
The company, which has the UK’s largest car manufacturing business, has confirmed to the Guardian that it will have a “limited no-production period” at its Castle Bromwich West Midlands and Halewood Merseyside facilities starting Monday.
It is understood that the shutdown is expected to last at least a week, although the company will continue to monitor its supply of chips before committing to a reopening date.
The closure underscores the struggles of automakers around the world to secure a supply of computer chips, also known as semiconductors, amid a global shortage that has hit companies from Microsoft and Sony, the makers of the Xbox and PlayStation game consoles. , the phone maker Samsung and the cryptocurrency “miners” who need computer chips to solve puzzles that earn them bitcoins and other digital assets.
The automotive industry is used to managing “just-in-time” supply chains that minimize the amount of money accumulated in factory warehouses. However, the global nature of the chip shortage has put a strain on automakers as they compete directly with technology companies for supply.
“The auto industry doesn’t matter much in the semiconductor industry,” complained a source from another car maker.
On Wednesday, French carmaker Renault said the industry was at the height of difficulties securing chip supplies, but warned that the outage could continue for months into the summer.
JLR is still considering whether employees from affected factories will be placed in the government layoff program, which pays up to 80% of workers’ salaries if they are unable to work due to Covid-19. The program is expected to run until the end of September.
The models affected by the temporary closure will be the Jaguar XE and XF executive cars and the F-Type sports car, all built in Castle Bromwich, and Halewood’s Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
Production will continue at JLR’s Solihull plant, which produces various Range Rover models plus the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. JLR’s international plants in Slovakia – where its new Defender is produced – Brazil and China are still unaffected.
A spokesperson for JLR said: “Like other automotive manufacturers, we are currently experiencing some disruptions in the Covid-19 supply chain, including global semiconductor availability, which is impacting our production schedules and our ability to meet. the global demand for some vehicles.
“We are working closely with affected suppliers to resolve issues and minimize the impact on customer orders where possible.”