It has nothing to do with the semiconductor chip shortage.
The semiconductor chip shortage has been a regular news story for weeks now as it continues to wreak havoc for automakers. Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 production has significantly decreased while the Camaro assembly has ground to a halt entirely. Other makes and models continue to suffer as the industry works with the US government to find a solution. But let's not forget what caused the lack of chips for new vehicles in the first place: the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the mass vaccination drive, infections continue and Michigan has become the nation's new hotspot.
As per Bloomberg, the Michigan outbreak has severely struck a Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, home of the Ram 1500 and 1500 TRX. Citing unnamed sources, the report claims the "plant fell short of its daily build number by between 200 and 300 vehicles" last week.
About 630 assembly line workers have either tested positive for Covid-19 or were in quarantine as of last Tuesday. That figure is up by roughly 200 workers from the week prior. The facility employs more than 7,800 workers. Although the automaker did not provide any specific details, a spokesperson says it remains "vigilant" in enforcing health and safety rules.
"As COVID cases are increasing in communities across Michigan, we also have had employees test positive. We continue to be aggressive in following recommended guidelines for contact tracing," the official statement reads. "We also continue to strongly encourage our employees to follow the same health and safety measures whenever they are out and about."
Stellantis is encouraging all employees to get vaccinated and continues to facilitate employee vaccinations in Metro Detroit.
We don't know yet how Ram truck production will be affected this coming week but it's reasonable to assume the infection and quarantine figures will continue to increase. Meanwhile, five Stellantis plants across North America remain shut down due to the chip shortage, including Warren Truck plant in north Detroit that's home to the Ram 1500 Classic and Illinois' Belvidere Assembly charged with build the Jeep Cherokee. Both are highly profitable vehicles like the latest generation 1500 trucks.
Last year, Ram sold a total of 563,676 trucks and in the first quarter of this year managed to outsell the Chevy Silverado. For now, Ram 1500 production continues at a slower pace but a large-scale plant outbreak would be a major problem.