BMW is set to temporarily close its Plant Oxford Mini production line after the premium car manufacturer becomes the latest casualty of a global shortage of semiconductor microchips.
News of the temporary shutdown follows last week’s announcement of a two-week closure of Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood and Castle Bromwich plants, which produce its Jaguar XE, XF and F-Type and Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
Ford has also been forced to order the temporary closure of its Dagenham diesel engine production plant and its Halewood gearbox facility, while Nissan has adjusted production schedules at its Sunderland plant because due to the same crisis.
Business Matters magazine reported on BMW Plant Oxford closure this morning (April 29), stating that BMW’s plant at Cowley will shut down from tonight and should reopen next Thursday.
A spokesman for BMW told the publication: “It will be a total shutdown but we are aiming for normal service to return next week.”
Increasing numbers of car production workers are being impacted by the semiconductor shortage as the UK’s automotive sector struggles to recover from 2020’s series of COVID-19 prompted shutdowns.
A total of 4,500 people are employed at BMW’s Plant Oxford facility, while AM understand that 6,000 workers have been affected by the JLR shutdown and 1,900 at Ford.
Swansway Group director, Peter Smyth, today expressed his concerns about the impact of the semiconductor shortage in an interview with AM as the group reported record performances in its 2020 annual financial results.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), meanwhile, said that the issue stood alongside Brexit-related import/export issues that were hampering the UK car manufacturing sector’s ability to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
This morning the SMMT reported that UK car production had delivered a 46.6% year-on-year growth in vehicle production in March, but chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Whilst the COVID situation is improving in the UK and in some major export markets, manufacturers are still struggling to manage residual issues, most notably the global semiconductor shortage.”
The global semiconductor shortage has been attributed to an increase in demand for tablets and smartphones during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.