DETROIT—Along with everybody else in the global auto industry, Dave Gardner has been dealing with one manufacturing and supply chain headache after another this year.
In an era of wildly changing plans and rapidly emerging new technologies, those challenges are sure to continue.
Gardner, American Honda Motor Co.'s executive vice president of national operations, has been trying to get vehicles from factories to dealer lots to cash in on the reawakening U.S. retail market. But he says he has been fighting developments on multiple fronts.
There has been COVID-19, of course, the international health crisis that halted assembly lines and supply chains across North America, Asia and Europe. And there have been issues with individual pandemic-affected parts suppliers that are struggling to get their volumes back up to customers' expectations.
There are lingering tariff and other trade issues that preceded the pandemic, still complicating the flow and price of certain imported vehicle parts and materials.
Now there is a bedeviling international shortage of microchips, making it impossible to assemble all the vehicles that manufacturers want to build. And if all that wasn't enough, the pandemic has also resulted in a global shortage of cargo containers, leaving critical materials sitting undeliverable at ports and warehouses.
On top of all that came the confounding winter storm that shut down large parts of Texas in February, interfering with the movement of petrochemicals and clipping production of critical oil-based materials and foam that the auto chain relies on.