Subaru Plant Shuts Down as Chip Shortage Rages On

The COVID-19 pandemic has messed our world up in plenty of ways, some more obvious than others. The semiconductor chip shortage has been one of the sneaky ones. The supply chain has gotten kinked, and the backup is growing dire. In fact, the chip shortage has gotten so bad that a Subaru plant in Japan will shut down for at least two weeks due to the lack of semiconductor chips. Two of Subaru’s most popular SUVs are going to get hit hard.  

Subaru plant in Japan shuts down for two weeks due to semiconductor chip shortage
Subaru employees assemble BRZ | Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Your 2021 Subaru Outback might be a bit late

CarScoops reports that Subaru confirmed that it would be closing the Yajima plant between April 10 and April 27. The plant will not be fully operational until May 10. This pandemic has obviously not been ideal for the workers. These chip shortages continue the strain on Subaru and its workers. Taking this much time off production will further add to this stress, but the chip shortage has left Subaru little choice. 

Two Subaru Outback on display at an auto show
A Subaru Outback display at an auto show | David McNew/Getty Images

This plant is responsible for a large chunk of the production of the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Forester. These are two of Subaru’s most popular vehicles and will certainly hurt both of these models’ future supply. The factory shut down is estimated to impact the overall production of these models by 10,000 units. 

When will the chip shortage end? 

It is tough to say. Shutdowns from last year caused many factories to halt production on semiconductor chip production. But because we were all stuck at home, electronic sales like video games, computers, TVs, and cars skyrocketed. Since so many electronics were sold and semiconductor chips weren’t being made to replace those used in these products, we are now in a troubling chip shortage. 

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Although Subaru doesn’t blame the shutdown on this, the global chip shortage was recently worsened by the fire at chipmaker Renesas Electronics’ plant on March 19. In a time where the production can’t meet the demand, the fire was simply another level added to this steeply worsening problem. 

This chip shortage is hurting more than just Subaru

The chip shortage has hit many automakers over the past few months. Toyota, Suzuki, and Subaru are all getting slammed. Just a few days before Subaru announced its plant shutdown, Suzuki announced that two of its three plants would be shut as well. 

a parking lot full of 2018 Subaru Outback SUVs. Consumer Reports named this model one of the most reliable SUVs of 2018
Subaru Corp. Forester compact sport utility vehicles (SUV) bound for shipment stand at a port in Yokohama, Japan | Akio Kon/Bloomberg

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The shortage isn’t just hitting Japanese automakers; Ford has been slammed too. Just last week, Ford announced that six plants would be shutting down across the country. Ford’s plant shutdown will largely affect the production of the F-150, which is a massive hit to Ford. 

This is extra painful for Ford because the F-150 is not only the breadwinner for Ford; it also just got what might be the most significant overhaul/redesign in the model’s history. The Ford plant shutdown will also be for just under two weeks. Production halted on April 5 and is set to resume around the 12th. 

COVID-19 really messed us up

We have seen the pandemic’s immediate effects over the last year with lives lost and cities shutting down, but the long-term implications of the shutdowns are yet to be seen. There is more to this whole story, and we will uncover it as it continues to unfold. Hopefully, the future of production will be informed by COVID and have backup plans and more stockpiles of supplies to keep these logjams from happening again.