Semiconductor executive Tom Caulfield knew a crisis was brewing when he started getting frantic calls from big automakers just before Christmas.
“Tom, you’re killing me, you need to make more,” Caulfield, the chief executive of chipmaker GlobalFoundries, recalls the auto executives saying. “Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler-Benz, Fiat Chrysler, GM – every one of them became my new best friends.”
The Santa Clara, Calif.-headquartered company did its best to ramp up production for car manufacturers at its three big factories in the United States, Germany and Singapore, Caulfield said in an interview. But its efforts alone couldn’t fix a supply problem that had been building for months as an unprecedented surge of demand far outstripped supplies across the globe, leaving manufacturers of all kinds in the lurch.
The shortages have forced General Motors and Ford to slash production in three states as well as in Canada and Mexico, threatening jobs at the auto companies and their suppliers. The White House has already leaned on big chip producers and their host nations, including Taiwan, to increase output, but on Friday, governors from eight states urged President Biden to “redouble those efforts,” warning of a “growing list of automakers, suppliers, and dealers negatively affected by the shortage.”