The “microchip crisis” risks costing car manufacturers 91 billion euros

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The consultancy firm Alix-Partners has revised, upwards, the forecast on the costs that the car manufacturers will have to bear due to the shortage of semiconductors: no longer 50 billion euros as estimated at the end of January, but 91. After that BMW is also forced to slow production, virtually none of the major manufacturers have managed to avoid the bottleneck of microprocessor supply.

American groups are particularly affected by this “crisis”, which is also exacerbated by events that go beyond the aftermath of the coronavirus and are attributed both to the snowstorms that plagued the southern part of the US and to the stake that hit the Japanese plant by Renesas. Stellantis had to repeatedly suspend production between Europe and the United States with Peugeot choosing to return to offering cars with an analog rather than a digital dashboard. Ford has already reported that the shortage of hi-tech components could cost the equivalent of over € 2 billion.

According to the latest Federal Reserve report, US industrial production rose 0.7% in April, while automotive production dropped 4.3%. South Korea had even relieved the operators involved in the procurement of microchips from the obligation of quarantine.

At the end of the year, according to the analysis of Alix-Partners, 81 million new light vehicles manufactured will be recorded, with a lower production calculated in the order of 3.9 million units. The first 100,000 are those that the Volkswagen group has already declared for the inaugural quarter of 2021.

Manufacturers’ estimates diverge on the duration of the crisis, undoubtedly exacerbated also by fears of homes for the consequences of the pandemic which have limited strategic supplies, leaving the field free to China and other industrial sectors.

With a few exceptions, however, the housing accounts between January and March are improving sharply. The costs of the crisis should fall in particular on the second quarter, even if some manufacturers foresee that the difficulties will end up weighing down the second half of the year as well.

In countries where companies can make use of social safety nets, manufacturers will nevertheless be able to reduce personnel costs, as already happened in 2020. Renault and the entire Alliance had already planned to reduce production to increase the utilization rate. of plants and increase margins. Almost all the houses are engaged in electrification and the conversion also includes the renovation of the plants, which therefore need to be partially closed. In short, there are also implications that the automotive sector can exploit in its favor.

Another of the positive side effects of the shortage of microprocessors, which will negatively affect sales volumes, will be the progressive reduction of “warehouses”, ie cars manufactured and still standing, with the consequent probable collapse of the zero-kilometer car market.

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