Worldwide microchip shortage puts stop to Defender production

Jaguar Land Rover has had to stop production of its award-winning new Defender because of the worldwide shortage of semi-conductor microchips.

The Land Rover vehicle is made at its state-of-the-art factory at Nitra, Slovakia, which opened in 2018 and where it is aims to complete 150,000 of the off-roaders annually.

The luxury car maker's factories at Castle Bromwich and Halewood on Merseyside has also been affected by the same issue in recent weeks.

The worldwide automotive industry is being hit by the chip shortages.

JLR has issued a statement saying: "Like other automotive manufacturers, we are currently experiencing some Covid-19 supply chain disruption, including the global availability of semi-conductors, which is having an impact on our production schedules. As a result, we are adjusting production schedules in some of our plants to reflect this.

"We continue to see strong customer demand for our range of vehicles. We are working closely with affected suppliers to resolve the issues and minimise the impact on customer orders wherever possible."

Demand for the new Defender, which has helped JLR worldwide sales recover this year, has been high since it went on sale in 2019 and there are delivery waiting times of up to a year.

Manufacturers in many industries have been affected by the shortage of semi-conductor chips, with production of cars massively impacted because latest models are increasingly dependent on the chips for everything from digital displays to engine management.

When car makers shut their plants during coronavirus lockdowns, chip makers switched production to more profitable processors for consumer electronics.

When the car factories reopened earlier than expected, there were far fewer chips available than the manufacturers required.

It has been reported that nearly 100,000 customers are currently waiting for deliveries of Jaguar Land Rover cars due to the supply shortage.

JLR chief financial officer Adrian Mardell said last month that order books were expected to normalise in six to 12 months' time.

Production was down 7,000 units in the first quarter of 2021 due to the chip supply issues – and more than 20,000 orders for the Defender are currently in place.

BMW, Daimler, Ford and General Motors have also had to pause assembly lines due to the supply issues.

The company's chief commercial officer Felix Brautigam has decided to leave JLR at the end of June to explore new opportunities.

He joined the company in November 2017 to lead the commercial team with highlights including he successful launch of the new Land Rover Defender and award-winning Jaguar I-PACE.

Chief executive Thierry Bollore said: "Felix successfully spearheaded the demand and profit-led transformation of sales, service and marketing resulting in increased profitability, strengthened brands and higher customer loyalty. We would like to thank Felix for his contribution to Jaguar Land Rover’s executive board and wish him every success in the future."

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