The other issue is where future parts will be made. Most cutting-edge chips are produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is by far the biggest contract chip manufacturer, or foundry. But shipment interruptions from Asia because of the pandemic have made politicians worry about reliance on factories in Taiwan, especially in view of China’s territorial claims over the island.
So the Senate has overwhelmingly approved a $52 billion package of subsidies aimed at encouraging the construction of more chip factories in the United States, though that funding has been caught up in partisan battles in the House.
GlobalFoundries was formed in part through acquisitions of plants formerly owned by the chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, also known as AMD, and IBM. It had an initial public offering of stock in October and is investing heavily to expand its output.
Although it is 89 percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, GlobalFoundries makes classified chips for the Pentagon in factories in Vermont and upstate New York. It has a high-volume plant near Albany, N.Y., whose output it plans to double, hopefully with the aid of grants from the congressional funding package if it is approved, Mr. Hogan said.
Producing chips in America, he said, was definitely part of the Ford relationship. “There is an aspect that says, ‘While we are reinventing how we source semiconductors, let’s also solve another problem by having more of it onshore.’”
The supply chain in the $500 billion semiconductor industry is extremely complex, particularly for chips used in cars. Key suppliers include NXP Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics in Europe, Renesas Electronics in Japan, and Onsemi and Microchip Technology in the United States. Those companies own factories to make some chips they design, but they also subcontract some of the manufacturing.
Automakers have historically relied on an additional intermediary group of so-called Tier 1 companies that buy chips to design modules to handle particular functions in cars, such as controlling engines and transmissions.