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Ford stops Focus car plant for whole month due to chip shortage

Ford Motor is stopping production of its most popular car model in Europe for a whole month due to the shortage of semiconductors.

The automaker’s Focus factory located in Saarlouis, Germany, will idle from January 18 through February 19, according to a spokesman, who said lower consumer demand also is also a reason. The plant is Ford’s only manufacturing facility for the Focus and employs about 5,000 employees.

The facility is the latest to fall victim to a supply problem that’s disrupting automakers. Ford already was forced to idle a sport utility vehicle plant in Kentucky this week, just like Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Toyota Motor. and others who are scaling back output because of the bottleneck of chips that play a function in everything from brakes to windshield wipers.

The semiconductor shortage springs from the coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions that led housebound costumers to snap up more phones, game consoles, smart TVs, and laptops. Chipmakers field more orders from those industries than the automobile sector even in normal times and have been unable to balance that demand together with the surprisingly brisk business for auto manufacturers.

Semiconductor shortages may persist across the first half, researcher IHS Markit predicted last month. Automakers will start to see supply improve in the next two to three months, China’s Passenger Car Association said this week.

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