Automakers could face a shortage of foam used in car seats due to the winter storm that crippled Texas and other states across the U.S. last month.
The storm impacted the production of oil refinery byproducts used to make propylene oxide that’s required for the polyurethane foam that car manufacturers use in their seats. Auto News reports that some seating supplier assembly lines could run out of foam by March 8.
“A lot of production is down still for oil refinery byproduct and in a few days no one is going to be able to make [propylene oxide],” an auto-industry executive told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Everyone is scrambling. This problem is bigger and closer than the semiconductor issue.”
A separate purchasing executive from the car industry added that the shortage could impact automakers in the coming weeks. “It’s currently a threat, not a given,” the executive said. “The first impact is the second half of March. … I assume everyone is looking for alternative supplies globally.”
General Motors spokesman David Barnas said the brand doesn’t anticipate “any immediate production impacts,” noting that “GM continues to work closely with the supply base to mitigate the impacts caused by the significant winter weather that affected a large portion of the country the week of Feb. 15.”
In addition, Toyota Motor North America said it is coordinating with suppliers to minimize the impacts.
“We are aware of the petrochemical industry’s condition and are working with our supplier partners to mitigate any impact to our production plan,” spokesman Eric Booth said. “At this time, it is too early to predict the potential near-term impact.”
Hyundai, Kia, and BMW all said they are monitoring the situation. Stellantis is also monitoring the shortage and does not expect an impact on its operations at the current time.