Infiniti is temporarily halting production of its remodeled QX50 compact SUV due to the ongoing microchip shortage, leaving the brand's dealers short on stock on two important models now.
Assembly of the QX50 at Infiniti's plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, will be suspended in June, Automotive News reports.
An Infiniti spokesperson confirmed the suspension and noted that production of the Q50 sedan in Japan will also be halted next month.
“We continue to work closely with our suppliers and partners to assess the impact of supply chain issues and minimize disruption to our retailers and customers”, the spokesperson said.
The QX50 is Infiniti's best-selling model and accounts for about one-third of the brand's U.S. sales (according to first quarter figures for this year).
The semiconductor shortage comes as Infiniti is about to go ahead with several key model launches. The brand-new QX55 SUV began showing up at dealerships last month, while production of the next-generation QX60 is scheduled to begin in early July.
The launch of the QX60 is crucial for Infiniti as it looks to turn things around after experiencing its biggest annual sales decline (in percentage terms) in its history. Last year's drop was 32 percent, and that includes the U.S. market. In fact, Infiniti is doing everything it can to protect the launch of the QX60 and is therefore reserving the chips it is getting for that model.
The QX50 supply disruption comes as dealerships find themselves without QX60 inventory as the summer season approaches. Production of the outgoing QX60 ended in December, but the redesigned model won't arrive until late August or early September. Again, the situation described is for the U.S. market, but it doesn't look much better in Canada.
All of this is not reassuring, especially since we know that the crisis will not be resolved in a few weeks, but rather in a few months.
There is hope on the horizon, however; it was reported on Friday that a group of U.S. senators is on the verge of unveiling a $52 billion proposal that would significantly stimulate semiconductor chip production and research in the United States over a five-year period.
We'll know next week if the proposal can move forward. In the meantime, many are crossing their fingers across the industry - including Infiniti executives.