Microchip Shortage Affecting EMS

The photo shows the back of an ambulance.
File Photo

A shortage of computer chips has forced consumer automakers to limit production. The scarcity is also hurting the supply of new ambulances, according to experts.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) and The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) Ground Vehicle Standards say the Ford Motor Company shut down production of the E series, T series and F series ambulance chassis in mid-April.

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Ford supplies about 70% of the ambulance chassis in the United States.

“The end is not yet in sight, with the shortage of the critical microchips predicted to run into 2022,” the two groups said in a joint statement. “Ford currently predicts an overall production loss of over 1.1 million units in 2021.”

The shortage of microchips and raising prices is linked the COVID-19 pandemic. When automotive factories shut down, semiconductor makers shifted production from automobiles to personal electronics to meet the demand of more people working from home.

An economic rebound then happened faster than economists predicted and automotive plants began restoring full-scale production. Chip makers can’t keep up with the demand, however.

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Both AAA and CAAS say final stage ambulance manufacturers and remounting companies are reporting more chassis shortages now than what was experienced in 2020, the height of the plant shutdowns.

“Both Ford and GM report that the duration and extent of the semiconductor shortage and resulting production shutdowns are not yet known and ‘the situation changes daily,'” the groups reported. “As of mid-May, many FSAMs are reporting significant ambulance production slowdowns due to chassis shortages, with complete shutdowns of some ambulance assembly lines highly likely in the near future.”

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