Since the beginning of the year, representatives of the power structures of the United States, Germany and Japan through diplomatic channels have tried to lobby for the interests of the domestic auto industry in a situation with a shortage of semiconductor components. Informed sources argue that German manufacturers are less likely to change the state of affairs in the industry than American ones.
Another analysis of the problems of relations between the developers of semiconductor products and their customers from among the automakers was carried out by Reuters with the involvement of industry analysts. As you know, the auto industry is not the largest consumer of semiconductor products – its share in the total revenue of the segment does not exceed 10%, although in monetary terms it reaches a solid $ 40 billion a year. The auto industry does not need advanced lithography technologies, on which chip manufacturers and their contractors spend the bulk of their capital investments. For this reason, it is not so easy to take and quickly increase the volume of production of automotive components.
One of the European chip manufacturers admitted to Reuters that in the midst of the pandemic, with a drop in demand for cars, the company had to dismiss part of its staff and incur losses associated with equipment downtime. If automakers took on even some of the financial risks in calling for more chip production, the semiconductor industry could still be on their way. Otherwise, few will dare to increase production volumes solely for the needs of the automotive industry. Some of the customers, as the chip maker added, simply do not understand that enterprises are already working at the limit of their capabilities, there are no reserves to increase production.
Representatives of the German auto industry believe that the appeal of the German authorities to the Taiwanese partners in January this year will not bring any results. American customers have a better chance of success, because the US government at least has political influence on the island, where half of the manufacturing capacity of companies specializing in contract manufacturing of semiconductor components is concentrated.
According to IHS Markit estimates, now the average waiting time for microcontroller delivery in the automotive industry has increased from 13 to 16 weeks, and the situation will not begin to improve before March. Over time, the auto industry will begin to influence the semiconductor industry more, as the share of high-tech components in vehicles will increase as electric vehicles become more widespread and autopilot systems are introduced. In the meantime, experts at Strategy Analytics expect that this year the volume of car production in North America and Europe will decrease by 5-10% precisely due to the lack of components.
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