Automotive industry turns on alarm lights: chips, seat belts and airbags are in short supply | Economy

The automotive industry continues to suffer from electronic chip shortage, with slowed production and factories stopped, but he is confident that the horizon will start to clear by the end of 2021.

So far, both constructors and equipment suppliers in the sector have presented some semi-annual results better than expected, but still held back by the shortage of these semiconductors. Some firms have even reported that missing airbags and seat belts.

These pieces, essential for assembling increasingly computerized vehicles, they are hard to find since late 2020.

Although customers slowly return to dealerships, Mercedes or BMW had to temporarily suspend activity in several factories.

Jaguar-Land Rover It warned that this shortage could cut its sales in half in the third quarter.

And on Thursday, the giant Volkswagen noted that the risk of blockage and disruption in the supply of semiconductors “intensified in the sector” and, consequently, reduced its sales forecast.

“We have managed to limit the consequences of these obstacles so far,” said the German group’s chief financial officer, Arno Antlitz. “But we anticipate more pronounced effects in the third quarter,” he warned.

At the peak of the crisis

Ford also temporarily closed some factoriesAlthough it benefited from strong demand for its cars, vans and trucks to “optimize revenue and profits,” offering fewer promotions and focusing on the most profitable models.

Thus, the average price in North America increased by 14% year-on-year.

Chip shortage forced Nissan to delay the launch of its new 100% electric crossover Ariya, although the Japanese brand has not changed its annual sales target.

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Y Tesla, which has been held back by the shortage of airbags and belts, conceived programs to use new compounds, said Monday its leader Elon Musk.

This crisis “has reached its peak”, assures the director of the Automobile Research Center, Ferdinand Dudenhöffer.

“The situation will improve as new production capacities become available, but the problem will not be solved by the end of 2021 and could last until 2023. There will continue to be a risk in the supply chain,” he warned.


The expert foresees a total of 5.2 million vehicles “lost” in 2021 and a sharp decline in registrations in the second quarter, with longer waiting times and higher prices for customers.

This shortage also has consequences in the second-hand vehicle market, which is also becoming more expensive due to the increase in demand.

Equipment supplier Valeo, which uses 50 billion electronic compounds a year for its driver assistance and lighting systems among others, managed not to interrupt its production, moving compounds from its best equipped factories.

“Every time electronic compounds were introduced, we decided to buy and store them,” the company’s chief financial officer, Robert Charvier, told reporters.

Valeo foresees May the crisis ease but continue in 2022.

Review the supply chain

In an industry where logistics is calculated almost to the minute, “equipment suppliers and builders are re-evaluating their supply chain to better control it, diversifying their sources if possible,” analyzes Nils Poel, from the European Union of Equipment Suppliers.

“Some builders coordinate better with their suppliers. Others put pressure on them, ”he says.

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For EM Normandie Business School economics professor Mathilde Aubry, the automotive sector could “come off better stopped” than others and “not be the one who suffers the longest.”

The US government plans to invest $ 52 billion to depend less on Asia.

Europe is trying to repatriate the production of miniaturized chips, essential in “ultra-strategic sectors linked to health and security,” says Aubry.

The automotive sector will have to watch out for another eventual shortage, says Dudenhöffer. The unforeseen explosion in electric vehicle sales since 2020 may cause battery cells to become scarce from 2023.


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