Starting next week, General Motors is again halting the assembly lines of several pickup truck plants because the company doesn’t have enough computer chips. The plants had been back up and running for just a week following a shutdown in July, which was also caused by the chip shortage.
These production halts may not stop anytime soon. “I do think we’ll continue to see impact this year, and it will have a tail into next year,” warned CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday. And Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger similarly predicted last month that things won’t get back to normal for at least a year or two.
Now, the impact of the supply crunch is spreading to consumer tech. Apple CEO Tim Cook warned last week that a limited supply of semiconductors would hurt sales of iPhones. Microsoft is struggling to make enough Xbox consoles and Surface laptops. Elon Musk told a court last month that the chip shortage meant Tesla would only be able to manufacture about half as many Powerwall home batteries as it thinks it can sell. One San Francisco sex toy company even stockpiled microcontrollers to fend off future supply chain problems.
It’s clear that the global chip shortage shows no sign of abating anytime soon. In fact, it seems to be getting worse. While the White House is racing to expand chip manufacturing in the US to avoid future shortages, it could be years before that government investment actually pays off for consumers. So for now, the chip industry will continue to be hampered by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, as products ship with missing features and higher prices — often after long delays.
“The administration is saying, ‘Well, this is
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