A new executive order has just been signed.
Since the beginning of the year, automakers have been plagued by a semiconductor chip shortage that caused several plant closures. Some of those facilities build extremely popular and profitable vehicles like the Ford Escape, Dodge Charger, and Toyota Tundra. Automakers reached out to President Biden for assistance in trying to resolve the problem and he's just done something about it.
The president has signed an executive order this week directing the federal government to conduct a 100-day review of semiconductor supply chains. These chips are essential not only for personal electronic devices like smartphones and laptops, but also for in-vehicle infotainment systems, driver-assist systems, and Bluetooth connections. A majority of these chips are manufactured in China.
The shortage was caused by the combined effects of the previous administration's trade war with China and a dramatic increase in sales of personal electronics last year when people everywhere were forced into lockdown because of the pandemic. Demand suddenly outweighed supply.
Automakers and their suppliers will continue losing money as long as there's a shortage, and both Biden and Congress are taking action. "This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we faced in this new era of pandemics, but also in defense cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more," Biden said. "The best way to do that is by protecting and sharpen America's competitive edge by investing here at home."
A few weeks ago, lobbyists representing automakers joined forces with their counterparts in the technology and telecommunications industries to push Congress for additional funding for domestic chip production and research. Congress heard their pleas.
"Right now, semiconductor manufacturing is a dangerous weak spot in our economy and in our national security, that has to change," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "We cannot let China get ahead of us in chip production." Biden's order goes beyond the semiconductor issue. Reviews in the fields of public health, defense, information communications technology, transportation, food and energy production, and biological preparedness are also included.