Audi will delay production of some of its premium cars due to the “massive” shortage of computer chips sweeping the auto industry, its chief executive said.
The luxury car brand, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, has put more than 10,000 workers on leave as the chip shortage has slowed its production lines, its manager, Markus Duesmann, said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Audi will do everything in its power to keep it below 10,000 [fewer models produced] for the first quarter, ”said Duesmann.
The Volkswagen brand itself Said he would make 100,000 cars less in the first quarter due to the shortage of chips, Nissan, Honda, Daimler, Renault and General Motors also said they were facing problems. Ford has announced that it will close its plant in Saarlouis, Germany, from Monday to February 19, according to the DPA news agency.
Mr. Duesmann described the problems as “a crisis after a crisis”. Demand for cars has fallen for much of last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting auto suppliers to cut orders for computer chips that handle everything from a car’s brakes and steering to its electric windows and distance sensors.
But demand for cars has unexpectedly surged in the last three months of 2020 as buyers become more optimistic. Audi had its best quarter in history, largely due to a rebound in China.
“We had a very strong fourth quarter, but in the previous months it was not clear how this was going to go, and everyone was quite surprised by the strength of the market in recent months,” said Duesmann. .
This surprised auto parts suppliers, who were forced to compete with growing demand from the consumer electronics industry as new game consoles and smartphones hit the market. The automakers themselves, who have switched to just-in-time manufacturing, no longer keep stocks of supplies themselves.
Some chip companies now have gave priority to the automotive industry, but the long lead times for chip production mean automotive suppliers will have to wait several weeks for their orders to be fulfilled, according to industry insiders.
“There is a very long [supply] with different levels of supply, ”added Duesmann, saying it is the smaller automotive suppliers that are struggling to meet the growing demand.
The former BMW executive, who took over from Audi last April, added that the chip shortage could “also affect the second quarter, but only in the order in which we build the cars.”
But he said that as it stands, the overall production of the VW-owned brand for 2021 will not suffer as a result, as Audi will make up for lost time in the second half of the year.