Lack of chips continues to slow down auto industry

Lack of chips continues to slow down auto industry
Market news |
The supply shortage of semiconductor components is having a broad impact on the production figures of the car industry. Now Stellantis and Volkswagen have presented their quarterly figures. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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The volume brands of the Volkswagen Group – Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen – were particularly hard hit. Here, production in terms of units slumped by 26 percent compared to the same period of the previous year; operationally, the group slipped into the red in the quarter under review. Because the chips for the vehicles’ electronic systems could not be delivered, the companies had to temporarily store many unfinished vehicles. The same applies to battery cells and other raw and auxiliary materials that were delivered but could not be installed. Their interim storage caused considerable costs, so that Volkswagen slipped into the red operationally in the reporting period. “The semiconductor shortage could no longer be compensated in Q3 due to massive production losses,” said Alexander Seitz, CFO of the Volkswagen brand.

Apparently there were massive shifts of semiconductor components within the group from the volume to the premium brands Audi and Porsche. These two brands suffered significantly less from the supply shortage and remained profitable or even increased their profitability; their earnings more than compensated for the losses at the volume brands overall. But the chip shortage remains a massive problem for the train manufacturer. “The semiconductor bottleneck in the third quarter clearly showed us that we are not yet resilient enough,” the business newspaper Handelsblatt quotes group CFO Arno Antlitz.

The chip crisis also left its mark on the quarterly figures published at the same time by Stellantis, the parent company of (among others) Fiat, Jeep, Opel/Vauxhall and PSA. The group’s deliveries fell by 27 per cent overall compared to Q3 2020. Around 600,000 vehicles could not be built because not enough semiconductors were delivered. Turnover fell by 14% to 32.6 billion euros. Here, too, the few chips delivered were preferably installed in the higher-margin models; revenue therefore fell less sharply than sales.

In August, Stellanti’s chief financial officer, Richard Palmer, had estimated the production loss at 1.4 million vehicles for the whole year; now he revised this estimate. The overall production shortfall this year will be higher than estimated in August, he said. Stellantis wants to maintain his targeted return on sales of around 10% for the full year – but only if the bottlenecks in semiconductor supplies do not worsen.

Volkswagen does not expect any improvement, at least in the short term. In a press release, the carmaker announced that it expects capacity bottlenecks for semiconductors to continue beyond 2021. The spectre of job cuts is already circulating – there is talk of 30,000 jobs at stake at Volkswagen.

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