Chip shortage continues to curb auto industry
Daimler expressed overall satisfaction with its sales. Compared to the Corona-stricken same period last year, the company was able to deliver 27 percent more cars of the Mercedes-Benz brand. This sounds like strong growth, but of course it has something to do with the fact that a year ago demand had slumped by about 20 per cent – precisely because of Corona; at that time the company (like other car manufacturers) had even temporarily stopped its production. Now Daimler has more than made up the shortfall, but the company says the result could have been better. “Despite robust global demand and high order intake, Mercedes-Benz sales were significantly limited by the existing supply shortage of semiconductor components,” the company writes in its latest report. The chip shortage has been an issue for a year, but no improvement is in sight. The bottleneck was particularly noticeable in June, the report says. And Daimler expects it to continue to cause problems for the rest of the year.
BMW also presented its figures lately. Even the triumph over a whopping 148.5 per cent increase in sales of vehicles with electrified powertrains and even 184 per cent for fully electric cars could not hide the fact that the supply crisis for semiconductors continues to hang over the company like a dark cloud. BMW does not give figures, but the situation is difficult. “Due to the limited availability of semiconductor components, the BMW Group has made isolated adjustments to the production programme in the first half of the year. The supply situation for semiconductor components will remain tight,” the report says. “Effects on the sales situation in the further course of the year cannot be ruled out.”
Things don’t look any better at Volkswagen – if anything, they look worse. According to a report in Business Insider magazine, the volume manufacturer expects that 800,000 cars cannot be built across the group this year because there are not enough chips. According to the report, there is fierce competition within the Volkswagen Group between the individual group brands (Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, VW) for the coveted semiconductors.
A group-wide distribution key apparently puts the Volkswagen brand at a disadvantage; 75 percent of the shortfall in production is accounted for by the brand from Wolfsburg. According to Business Insider, there are two reasons for this: First, the profit margins of the premium brands Audi and Porsche are higher, and therefore the group’s allocation key favours these brands. The other reason is that a certain VW model for the Chinese market uses a very specific control chip for the power steering, and this chip in particular is hardly available any more, they say.
Of course, the chip crisis is not only affecting German manufacturers. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) recently announced that the supply situation had worsened. The company expects that sales figures could slump by 50 per cent in the second quarter. “The chip shortage is presently very dynamic and difficult to forecast”, Automotive News Europe quotes a JLR statement.
A solution to the underlying structural crisis is not expected until the semiconductor manufacturers’ investments in expanding their capacities come on stream. This will take another 12 to 18 months, says JLR. Until then, the shortage is expected to continue.
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