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Rubber Scarcity Creates New Headache for Beleaguered Automakers

As supply chain challenges pile up, U.S. manufacturers are having a hard time finding the key material for tires.

A Continental Tire Distribution Center As Wholesale Inventories Released
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
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Automakers struggling with pandemic-induced plant shutdowns and a global chip shortage are now confronting another supply chain headache: dwindling rubber supplies.

Snarled shipping lines are disrupting the movement of natural rubber, a key material used in tires as well as components under the hood. With the global supply already running short following stockpiling by China and a devastating leaf disease, rubber prices are on the rise and some U.S. auto suppliers are rushing to secure shipments before the market gets squeezed further.