Automobile

COVID outbreak at Malaysian chip plant to hit Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn., factory

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly characterized the number of plants affected by the shortage. Only Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn. is affected.

A new COVID-19 outbreak at a microchip supplier plant in Malaysia has caused Nissan to shut down production lines at its large assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., until the end of the month.

Nissan North America did not disclose the name of the supplier, but said that the plant will halt for the weeks of Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. Nissan said it now plans to restart the lines on Aug. 30.

Like other automakers around the world, Nissan has already had its share of production line interruptions this year because of a shortage in allocations of microchips. But those shortages have been due mostly to demand miscalculations by chipmakers with limited capacity and automakers with uncertain 2021 forecasts.

AutoForecast Solutions LLC now estimates the chip shortage has already resulted in the loss of 5.8 million vehicles from automaker production plans globally. AFS forecasts the toll eventually could rise to 7.1 million.

Many in the industry have remained confident that the chip crisis was slowly ebbing as the COVID pandemic gradually lessened and supply chains got back to business.

However, a resurgence in COVID infections, including the spread of the virus’s delta variant, is raising new worries around the auto industry.

The chip shortage has received the lion’s share of attention as automakers push for more vehicle production but it is not the only challenge to vehicle output. Suppliers around the world are still struggling to staff up their own assembly lines in the aftermath of the pandemic. Many companies are coping with lingering shortages in other critical materials, ranging from steel to coatings and resins, as they try to meet automaker build orders.

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