Culprit Of Chip Shortage Found, Automaker Hunting Down Chips

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
culprit of chip shortage found automaker hunting down chips

We finally know who’s responsible for shutting down Nissan assembly lines in Japan and the U.S.A. The shortage of a critical computer chip stopped Hitachi from making ECUs, which in turn stopped Nissan from making cars. For days, the identity of the lackadaisical chipmaker had been kept under wraps. Now, the culprit has been unmasked.

It is STMicroelectronic s in Geneva, Switzerland. Yesterday, senior executives from Nissan and Hitachi on visited the offices of STMicroelectronics in Europe “for talks to seek an early resumption of full supplies,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. Apparently, the talks didn’t go too well, as evidenced by the fact that the name of the company is now out in the open.

The Nikkei says that STMicroelectronics had issued a notice on July 2 that it could supply only slightly more than 80 percent of the 120,000 chips for Nissan vehicles that it was supposed to ship under contract. Hitachi immediately dispatched personnel to Europe, but a senior official at Hitachi’s a said the STMicroelectronics did not provide a detailed explanation.

Hitachi supplies some 90 percent of its engine control units to Nissan. They are short of STM chips that control ignition coils.

STMicroelectronics also deliver to Bosch, Delphi, and Denso. Some Hitachi officials speculated that STMicroelectronics may have given precedence to other clients.

If chips are in short supply, then the auto industry must be doing quite well. Says The Nikkei in another story: “Alarmed by the growing prospects of a shortage of crucial chips for their products, many automakers are already taking steps to secure stable supply.” A spokesman of STM said that the recovery of the automotive business is taking place at a faster rate than expected and that the whole automotive electronics supply chain is currently under pressure to keep up with the market’s demand.

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  • EEGeek EEGeek on Jul 14, 2010

    Seems to me that if chips are in short supply, then it's the semiconductor industry that is doing quite well - automotive is only about 8% of the overall semiconductor market. The semiconductor business is notorious for boom & bust cycles. After a few very bad years in that business which resulted in capacity cuts, leadtimes in general are now stretching out. It sounds like Hitachi is using ST as a foundry. It may be that ST is capacity constrained and is giving precedence to other (likely more profitable) customers, or it may be that they lost the recipe and have a yield problem. Either way, Hitachi should have a backup plan, but it takes a long time to bring a custom design from scratch through a foundry. There may not be a quick fix to this problem...

  • Chitbox dodge Chitbox dodge on Jul 14, 2010

    Maybe it is as simple as ST isn't being paid for what they have made. I have worked for two companies that went belly-up because our customer would never pay, even though we held our end of the contracts. Usually the bigger the customer the harder it was to get paid as well. Sounds like Hitachi is middle man on this deal. Maybe they are getting strung out, especially if their supplier has other good paying customers. No one can say this never happens either. In some cases its used as a means to shut down competitors altogether.

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  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
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