Technology

Texas chipmaker production delays due to Winter Storm Uri impacting auto industry

NXP Semiconductors has two chip plants in Texas that were effected by Winter Storm Uri.

Photo courtesy of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

The effects of Winter Storm Uri are still being felt across Texas and it's impacting the auto industry. Reporting by Reuters tells that chipmakers, like Samsung Electronics, are still weeks away from resuming normal operations in Texas.

Traditionally, this sort of production slowdown wouldn't much impact the industry. There would typically be enough dealership and inventory and automaker back stock to make up for many, if not all of the shortages for a short period of time. However, COVID-19 has put a strain on the chipmaking industry and is already slowing production, limiting sales, and hurting automaker bottom lines.

There's also been increased demand for semiconductor chips as sales of laptops, gaming consoles, and other entertainment and exercise equipment soared as coronavirus-related lockdowns changed lifestyles globally.

Ford and General Motors have both said that their 2021 sales and profits will be hit hard by the shortage. Additional analysis by Reuters says that Toyota has enough inventory to last four months while Hyundai and Kia, which share common ownership, purchased a stockpile of chips when production was going full steam in late December and are thus far unaffected.

Samsung and NXP Semiconductors shut their factories in Texas last month when Winter Storm Uri took hold. Like Lone Star State households, Texas businesses lost access to electricity, natural gas, and water.

Samsung's logic chip plant is located in Austin. It began operating 2017 and makes chips using Samsung's 14-nanometer, 28-nm and 32-nm chip production technologies. The facility is Samsung's biggest logic chip production facility outside of South Korea, where the company is headquartered. The company also has a NAND flash chip facility in Austin.

NXP's plants are also in Austin where the company has its corporate headquarters. While there are nine other NXP offices in the U.S., there are no other manufacturing sites.

Edward Latson, CEO of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told Reuters that chipmakers now have the power, water and gas they need to operate, but they need time to restart tools and clean the factories. He characterized the process as being slow and "very expensive".

The one month of lost production is most likely to hit automakers hardest five months down the road, in the third quarter.

Many analysts had been predicting an uptick in new vehicle sales for 2021 after car sales rallied in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, these chip shortages are deeply impacting those sales predictions.

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David Beckham is the new face of Maserati.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

David Beckham is turning his passion for supercars into a side gig. The former Manchester United midfielder has become the new face of Maserati.

Beckham has a long history as a car nut. He's owned Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, McLarens, Cadillacs, Audis, Aston Martins, Jaguars, BMWs, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Hummers, and Jeeps, just to name a few. A year ago an Aston Martin Volante owned by Golden Balls went under the hammer and a little later in the year he was named one of the top five celebrities people would prefer to have deliver their new car to their home.

Maserati has a number of new projects up its sleeve besides partnering with Beckham. The company recently launched the new Ghibli Hybrid, a vehicle that the Modena-based manufacturer sees as a jumping off point for the new version of the brand - one where electrification and performance take center stage. Call it the Italian version of Akio Toyoda's famous "no boring cars" statement.

"The Brand is moving forward, inaugurated a new Era. Maserati is driven to challenge the status quo being innovative by nature, powered by passion, and unique by design. The partnership with David is the embodiment of all these values,: said Paolo Tubito, Maserati Chief Marketing Officer.

For 2021, Maserati also added a trio of Trofeos to its lineup. The The Maserati Levante Trofeo,. Ghibli Trofeo,and Quattroporte Trofeo are the most extreme versions of the vehicles available new from the manufacturer.

Beckham makes his debut in a new movie featuring the Levante Trofeo, performing the "audacious" act of driving a Maserati. The setting is Miami, the home city of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, an MLS soccer club that Becks co-owns with Marcelo Claure, Jorge Mas, Masayoshi Son, and José R. Mas.

Maserati and David Beckham: two of a kind www.youtube.com

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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