Chip crisis: carmakers produce “on stockpile”

Stuttgart / Wolfsburg (dpa) – The shortage of microchips is dramatic – and because of the delivery crisis, a rather ugly-sounding term is now making the rounds at car companies: “Stockpile production”.

Whether On-board computer or sensor: electronics are everywhere in modern cars. But the supply of electronic parts continues to falter. Nobody knows exactly how much longer. Large vehicle and truck manufacturers are forced to first put unfinished models on the factory yard. In the hope of being able to retrofit and deliver them as soon as possible.

In the truck division of Daimler, for example, there is a considerable inventory of trucks produced, but essential parts of which are still missing, as a spokesman explained . «These vehicles are urgently needed by our customers. We would also like to deliver them, but we are waiting for the relevant parts. ” Among other things, the large truck plant in Wörth in Rhineland-Palatinate is affected. The CEO Martin Daum recently pointed out the difficult situation in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” “Halde” officially avoided. Interim storage is quite normal, according to a spokeswoman – for example during the introduction of new models or before later transport. However, there is now also talk of an “increased number” of such measures at times: “There are logistics areas around the world that Mercedes-Benz uses as part of a planned process for the interim storage of vehicles.”

That excess Cars accumulate in large numbers at times on the factory premises or on specially reserved parking spaces, in fact, is nothing unusual. But in the current downturn in chips, the signs are different. With economic downturns like after the global financial crisis 2007 / 2008, the wagons back up until demand picks up again and manufacturers have adjusted their excess capacities in production. This was also the case in many places in the first months of the Corona crisis in spring and summer 2020. Now vehicles cannot be delivered even though there is demand.

Bottlenecks and short-time work

Europe’s industry leader Volkswagen is acting in a similar way to competitor Daimler. The individual brands seized every opportunity to produce, it is said. “This also includes the possibility of initially building vehicles unfinished so that they can be retrofitted immediately as soon as the relevant semiconductors and components are back in stock.” But that is only an option if the additional work is not too great. “For every brand there are specific plans for the completion of the vehicles, so that they can gradually be handed over to the trade and to our customers as quickly as possible.” . At the VW main plant in Wolfsburg, work can only be carried out on one assembly line in one shift this week through Thursday. According to purchasing manager Murat Aksel, a high six-digit number could not be produced in the first half of the year, the manager wants “closer partnerships” with the semiconductor industry.

The problem is a persistent one. VW chief inspector Hans Dieter Pötsch recently told the German press agency on the sidelines of the IAA Mobility auto show: “We have to deal with the fact that we can expect repercussions into the first half of the year 2022, perhaps even further. » CEO Herbert Diess indicated that he would review the contract structures with the chip industry: “Then we will probably have to coordinate more directly with semiconductor manufacturers and also make longer-term volume commitments there.”

Billions in losses

At BMW there are also vehicles whose construction cannot be completely finished. One reacts quickly to components that are available at short notice in order to then finish the cars quickly, explained a spokeswoman.

The dimensions are now enormous. According to an estimate by the consulting firm Alix Partners, the entire auto industry could 2021 revenue of well 210 billion US dollars (179 Billion euros). In the USA there are top-level talks on how to deal with the delivery crisis – including Apple, Intel, Ford, GM and Peugeot’s parent company Stellantis.

Daimler Truck AG has its «stockpile “Problem not there alone. The VW rival Traton (MAN, Scania, Navistar), who wants to steal market share from the Stuttgart-based company, especially in the USA, does not expect any rapid relaxation. Until 2022 there will probably be electronics bottlenecks, sales are already suffering.

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