By Elizabeth Perry
Orders placed for two Ford-branded vehicles by Coraopolis this past March have been canceled by the manufacturer leaving the borough in discussion as to how to spend the funds budgeted for 2022.
The purchases were to be a new Interceptor cruiser for the police department and an F-550 truck for the road crew to use for snow plowing and heavy hauling.
Since neither vehicle will be available in 2022, they are looking ahead to next year’s models.
“[Instead] they are offering 2023, for $8,000 more than last year’s price,” said Manager Raymond McCutcheon during the Sept. 14 council meeting.
The borough sought to purchase the vehicles from Woltz & Wind Ford in Heidelberg.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to purchase vehicles in 2023,” McCutcheon said.
During discussion with council members, McCutcheon suggested the borough instead purchase a tractor with an arm to cut away Japanese knotweed, and a quad with a snow plow for general maintenance purposes since the other vehicles are not available during the 2022 budget year.
Lingering issues connected to the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more difficult to purchase vehicles this year.
The shortage is linked to “microchip restraint,” according to Doug Allen, pre-owned manager at Woltz & Wind Ford.
When imports ground to a halt during the pandemic, so did the production of products that rely upon semiconductor chips.
About 75% of semiconductor chip manufacturing comes from China, according to White House figures.
Allen said his dealership has been coping with the vehicle shortage for more than a year. Typically, they sell 3,000 vehicles per year, but last year that number stood at 1,600.
“We normally carry 250 new vehicles in stock, and currently we have 50,” Allen said.
“Everybody’s kind of in the same situation.”
There has been a top-level response to the problem. On Aug. 9, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which aims to increase semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.
The new law provides $50 billion in incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and has a clawback provision for recipients of the incentives to prohibit them from expanding semiconductor manufacturing into China.