Conti boss: Chip crisis can drag on

Hanover (dpa) – The supply crisis for microchips is also hit hard at the office of auto suppliers – Continental boss Nikolai Setzer does not give the all-clear for the time being. “We see that these effects will probably continue into the year 2022,” he told the news agencies dpa and dpa-AFX.

“Many Market observers assume that there will only be a significant improvement from 2023, when higher capacities are available from the chip manufacturers. ” A dedicated team takes care of ironing out the worst bottlenecks: “Our colleagues continuously ensure that we serve our customers’ needs in the best possible way with the semiconductors available to us,” says Setzer. A new coalition in the federal government is hoped for reliability in energy, trade and labor market policy.

Missing semiconductors are currently the biggest problem in the automotive industry. The companies have to put some of the blame on themselves because they prematurely canceled contracts in the Corona low 2020. For example, Golfs ordered 130. 000 cannot currently be built at the VW parent plant in Wolfsburg. Opel is even shutting down its plant in Eisenach completely for months, and BMW is also warning of further consequences of the lack of chips.

“Maintain deliveries as far as possible”

Added to this was the high demand from IT and entertainment electronics for devices in the home office as well as the chip manufacturers’ own failures due to disasters and new pandemic shutdowns in Asia. “All these effects ensure that the supply of semiconductor products is very scarce,” explained Setzer. “At the same time, the value share of electronics in the vehicle is growing in automotive components – through electrification, assisted driving, increasing networking.”

The Dax group from Hanover does not see any rapid relaxation. Setzer emphasized: “But of course it also depends on how the other industries in addition to the automotive sector develop.” The quantities of chips that are still available would be secured – the Conti task force deals “every day with keeping our customers’ production running”. Everyone should stand together. “The point now is how we can keep deliveries as far as possible.” There is “simply too little quantity compared to what the market demands.”

Industry experts had revised their forecasts for the global auto business this year downwards, in some cases significantly. “With regard to the bottleneck in semiconductors, we drive on sight and continuously check how we can navigate through this situation in the best possible way,” said the Conti boss. “We have never experienced such a dynamic.”

A learning effect from the lack of chips with customers is already today: “We have to work together differently at all levels, we have to know in good time: which technologies will be how and when needed? We have to plan better, create greater commitments, also build up stocks, make better use of the available capacities. ”

Joint ventures should help

With a view to the Berlin government soundings, Setzer said , a new cabinet must have stable timetables for key issues such as climate protection and energy supply. “Of course we are relatively energy-intensive in the production of rubber and caoutchouc products.” You do a lot for sustainability. «But realistically we will still need a lot of energy. We need reliable programs that we can adjust to. ” The further development of the labor market is also “a very important issue.”

Most recently, electricity and gas prices in particular have risen significantly, they are the main drivers of inflation. “Last year we switched to green electricity in production worldwide,” said Setzer. “At this point, we will face the market and prepare.” Regarding the supply chain law, which aims to secure international social and environmental standards, the CEO commented: “Our plants are distributed all over the world. In the decisions that are made here and that are important to us here, we have to take into account that we are always in global competition. ”

Continental has just given itself a new corporate structure. The issues of software and autonomous driving play a more central role here. The company wants to increase the number of its own experts and is also relying on joint ventures. The speed is enormous here. “That is why we also enter into partnerships in order to keep the pace of innovation high.” In China, for example, a cooperation for integrated hardware and software for assistance and automated driving systems was concluded. “It may also be that we take over a partner entirely – depending on what makes us faster and better.”

Setzer sees particular potential in the development of sensors for higher levels of autonomous Driving “perceives” more and allows a higher data throughput than radar or cameras. This lidar technology works with laser beams. “We’ll see if and when Lidar will become a standard,” said the manager. “But the more laser systems come onto the market, the more affordable they should become.” When this succeeds also depends on the openness of the carmaker. “We talk about a time frame more like 2024, 2025.”

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