One hundred and fifty thousand cars. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has cost the German auto industry so much so far. The estimate is from the LMC Automotive company and concerns only the month of March. This would be more than 5% of annual production, based on data relating to 2021 (just under 2.95 million units manufactured, moreover down 13% on the already very difficult 2020).
German carmakers are the hardest hit by the side effects of the war. Partly due to the geographical proximity, but above all due to the distribution of the supply chain. Companies such as Leoni, Forschner, Kromberg & Schubert, Prettl, SEBN and Yazaki have settled in Ukraine from where they supply the wiring systems and other components. These are kilometers of indispensable cables (on average 5,000 meters per car), which cannot be replaced because they are “dedicated” and which cannot even be installed subsequently, a solution that had allowed manufacturers from all over the world to limit the resulting damage from the shortage of semiconductors.
80% of the wiring used by the German car industry comes from Ukraine, which had benefited from the progressive transfer of production from North Africa in recent years: some houses even get 100% supplies from the country. The problem is also logistical because before the war around 100,000 Ukrainian drivers drove industrial vehicles for the transport of goods across Europe: 7% of the fleet of German trucks had Ukrainian drivers behind the wheel.
In Ukraine, 22 automotive companies have invested 540 million euros in recent years, guaranteeing employment for about 60,000 people who work in about forty factories. Some are still miraculously operational, but many have ceased operations and it is unclear if and when they will be resumed.
The conflict has already forced Volkswagen to postpone the launch of the electric ID.5. In the five factories of the group in Wolfsburg, Mosel, Ingolstadt, Hanover and Neckersulm alone, production of almost 95,000 machines would have been lost. Also affected were the sites of the Czech Republic of Skoda (Mlada Boleslav) and Volkswagen (Kvasiny) for a total of 13,000 vehicles, British (Oxford) by Mini (9,600 cars), Hungarian (Kecskemét) by Mercedes (7,100), Polish (Wrzesnia ) of Volkswagen (4,400), Slovak (Bratislava) also of Volkswagen (2,000) and Belarusian (Borisov) of Geely (1,100). Problems were also recorded by Ford at the Cologne and Saarlouis sites (13,000 units), by Porsche (over 4,000 fewer cars in Leipzig) and by BMW (over 10,000 cars not produced between Dingolfing and Munich).
The problem is also logistical because before the war around 100,000 Ukrainian drivers drove industrial vehicles for the transport of goods across Europe: 7% of the fleet of German trucks had Ukrainian drivers behind the wheel.
At least as far as cabling is concerned, the situation should improve in April thanks to the surprisingly quick and flexible alternative partially always identified in Eastern Europe, including Romania Hungary, where the controversial “pro Putinian” premier Viktor Orban, has just won the elections, securing a fourth term at the helm of the country.