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UPDATE 5-GM extends vehicle production cuts due to global chip shortage

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* GM to focus on most profitable vehicle production

* U.S. firm announced idling of three plants this week

* Asian chipmakers boost output but no quick fix

* Government officials push for swift resolution to issue(Adds Ford, trade group comments, updates stock activity)

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT, Feb 9 (Reuters) - General Motors Co said onTuesday it was extending production cuts at three North Americanplants until at least mid-March due to the global semiconductorchip shortage, while vehicles at two other factories would onlybe partially built.

GM's U.S. rival Ford Motor Co also said Tuesday thatit was in limited cases parking partly assembled vehicles due tothe chip shortage.

GM, whose shares dipped 1.1% after the announcement, did notdisclose the impact on volumes or say which supplier and vehicleparts were affected by the chip shortage.

But it said it would focus on keeping production running atplants building its highest-profit vehicles: full-size pickuptrucks and SUVs. GM said it intended to make up as much lostproduction as possible once the shortage chip eased.

"Semiconductor supply remains an issue that is facing theentire industry," GM spokesman David Barnas said. "GM's plan isto leverage every available semiconductor to build and ship ourmost popular and in-demand products."

GM said it was extending downtime at its U.S. plant inFairfax, Kansas; its Canadian factory in Ingersoll, Ontario; andits Mexican facility in San Luis Potosi until mid-March when itwould reassess the situation, he said.

In addition, GM said it would build but leave incomplete forfinal assembly vehicles at Wentzville, Missouri, and its Mexicanplant at Ramos Arizpe.

GM vehicles affected by the idled plants include theChevrolet Malibu sedan, Cadillac XT4 SUV, Chevy Equinox, and GMCTerrain SUVs. Vehicles to be left incomplete for now includedthe Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon pickups and Chevy Blazer SUV.

This week, GM had said it was idling the three factorieswhere it has now extended downtime and said it would halveproduction at a plant in South Korea.

Ford's chief product platform officer, Hau Thai-Tang, at aconference on Tuesday raised the possibility that Ford mighthave to park vehicles that would need parts added later becauseof the chip shortage. Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, latersaid the company was doing that "in limited cases," but did notsay what vehicles were affected.

The shortage stems from a confluence of factors as automanufacturers, which shut plants for two months during theCOVID-19 pandemic last year, compete against the sprawlingconsumer electronics industry for chip supplies.

Consumers have stocked up on laptops, gaming consoles andother electronic products during the pandemic, leading to tightchip supplies. They have also bought more cars than industryofficials expected last spring, further straining supplies.

The chip shortage has affected many automakers, includingToyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis,Renault, Subaru, Nissan, Hondaand Mazda.

VW said Tuesday it expects chip supply to remain tight inthe first half of the year.

AutoForecast Solutions on Tuesday updated its estimate forlost production this year, saying the global industry could losealmost 1.3 million vehicles as a result of the shortage. GMcould lose an estimated 111,450 vehicles, the forecasting firmsaid.

Honda and Nissan said on Tuesday they would sell 250,000fewer cars in total this financial year due to the chipshortage.

Ford said last week the shortage was hitting production ofits highly profitable F-150 pickup trucks, saying it could lose10% to 20% of planned first-quarter vehicle production andearnings could fall by $1 billion to $2.5 billion.

Taiwan, home to the world's largest contract chip maker,Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), isat the center of efforts to resolve the shortage. U.S. officialsdiscussed the issue with their Taiwanese counterparts last week.

Chinese officials said on Tuesday they had met with auto andchip companies, asking them to help ease the shortage. Frenchstate officials meet with auto and electronics industry leaderson Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA) said thisweek that chip shortages had hurt national auto production inJanuary, and it would likely dampen output during the first halfof 2021.

The Information Technology Industry Council, whichrepresents technology and auto companies, wrote U.S. PresidentJoe Biden on Tuesday urging action to address the shortage,including providing "substantial funding" to ensure there willbe enough chips.(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, additional reporting byDavid Shepardson in Washington and Sharay Angulo in Mexico CityEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)