Before the pandemic, Earl Stewart could count over 300 new cars sitting on the lot of his family’s Toyota dealership in South Florida on any single day. The high inventory meant customers could find the exact model and color they wanted for well below sticker price. But now, Stewart’s lot has just a fraction of the cars he had before, with inventory down to 31 as of Friday.
That’s because a global shortage of semiconductor chips supplied primarily from Southeast Asia—where COVID-19 cases are among the highest in the world—has forced automakers to cut production. Nearly 20 auto factories have stopped or reduced production in recent weeks due to supply chain issues, affecting plants across the globe. At Ford’s Kansas City assembly plant, which builds the F-150 pickup and Transit van, employees were temporarily laid off for one week as they continue to wait for back-ordered chips to become