Kokomo, Ind. (WISH) — Domestic car dealers all over the country are desperate for inventory. Just a half mile down the street from a dealership in Kokomo are hundreds of brand-new pickup trucks all waiting for microchips at a former General Motors Co. plant.
“Just can’t believe that they parked all those vehicles that are missing microchips at the former microchip plant,” GM retiree Ryan Brassard said.
GM once manufactured microchips and other electronic device at the Kokomo location. Most recently, GM ventilators were manufactured here.
Just south of the plant is the home of Kimera Bowman. She retired from GM after 26 years. Every Monday afternoon, she and a group of friends, all retired from GM, gather in her backyard. Denise Dodd was a pipefitter at the plant.
“We have put our economy, our position in the United States in jeopardy because the chips are being manufactured overseas,” Dodd said.
I-Team 8 is told GM fenced off the entire facility to make room for between 5,000 and 7,000 trucks.
“I would like to see them bring back chip manufacturing, but all of the equipment has been removed and to work under a clean room environment, everything would have to be replaced,” Dodd said.
The shortage of microchips is blamed in part on the pandemic-fueled increase in personal electronic devices and a decrease in the number of new cars and trucks ordered last year as more people worked from home. I-Team 8 is told GM brings in truckloads of pickups every day to be stored on the vacant lot.
A handful are taken back to the GM plant in Fort Wayne as microchips come available. For Dodd and the others, seeing acres of brand-new Chevrolet and GMC trucks in Kokomo is heartwarming, knowing the company was still manufacturing vehicles. But at the same time, it’s a little disappointing.
“We brought this on ourselves,” Dodd said.
The manufactures of the microprocessors are not expected to catch up with the demand until sometime next year. So it could be some time before the prices of new cars and trucks come back down to earth.