The perfect storm hit the automobile industry. The shortage of semiconductors affecting planetary production was amplified both by a fire in the plant of an American supplier, and by the bad weather that hit Texas.
The Volkswagen group had already made it known in March that the lack of microchips had cost it the manufacture of at least 100,000 cars. The number one of the brand, Ralf Brandstätter, has publicly expressed his concerns, extending the state of “emergency” also to the second quarter. Exactly as did Ford, who spoke of prolonged “tension” on the market. So much so that European production will continue in fits and starts until August.
The lack of semiconductors is now also starting to involve the commercial vehicle segment: the Blue Oval will also slow down the assembly of the Transit in Turkey, after having already braked that of the F-Series pick-up in the United States, where it is the most sold it. For the same reason, Stellantis also closed 5 plants in North America.
Ford’s European site most affected is Cologne, where the Fiesta is produced, an extremely popular model, but on which the margins are narrower. Several manufacturers are grappling with the shortage of microchips, including the newborn giant Stellantis, who in the beautiful country will resort to layoffs for the Melfi factory.
In France, Peugeot decided to fall back on less hi-tech solutions by returning to offering non-digital screens so as not to be forced to suspend production, even if in the end it had to give up with a three-week break for the 308.
At least according to the first quarter data, Mercedes-Benz and BMW do not seem to fear too much the difficulty of remedying microprocessors given that they have revised their earnings estimates upwards. The house with the star has, however, extended the use of social safety nets for another two weeks at the Rastatt and Bremen sites due to the shortage of semiconductors.
Acea, the association of vehicle manufacturers operating in the Old Continent, had already sounded the alarm, even though it was LMC Automotive, a consultancy company with offices on three continents, that got out of balance. According to the LMC analysis, the shortage of microprocessors risks penalizing global production by up to 2.2 million fewer vehicles.
Pat Gelsinger, the number one of Intel, the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, has returned from long negotiations with the European commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton for the possible opening of a factory in the Old Continent. Which would be far from zero cost to the EU: journalistic rumors reveal that Intel would have demanded subsidies for 8 billion euros. An important sum, however, also invested by Asian governments to support their own microchip industry on which the European automotive depends. Which is again forced to chase.