Pass the Chips: VW Group Demands More Semiconductors for Europe

pass the chips vw group demands more semiconductors for europe
Residual complications from COVID-19 lockdowns and overdependency on Central Asian suppliers have left most of the automotive industry fretting over where they’ll be sourcing their semiconductor chips in 2021. What started as an issue forcing a handful of manufacturers to rejigger their assembly schedules has evolved into a worldwide problem. This week, practically every automaker with a global footprint announced that it would be suspending production at key facilities to contend with the shortage or issued warnings that their Q1 earnings might be negatively impacted if supply failed to stabilize.On Thursday, Volkswagen Group decided this was unacceptable and demanded that something be done about it in Europe — which is the region that has arguably been hit the hardest. “We won’t produce chips ourselves,” Markus Duesmann, VW Group’s board member for R&D and CEO of Audi, told Reuters in an interview. “But of course we would like to have strong chipmakers that are at least on par with Asia and the United States.”Noting that technology would be essential for VW’s success, Duesmann suggested that Europe really should be leading in modern tech his company driving the charge. While not the first automaker to do so, Volkswagen has also announced how important software would be to the business moving forward — though we’d suggest it has a ways to go before it can brag about it. However, without the necessary components (semiconductors) to store and move said data, the point is moot.The chips must flow.From Reuters:One way to achieve this, he said, could be funding programs modeled after an existing plan to boost Europe’s battery cell technology under a scheme called Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI).Germany on Wednesday said European countries were planning to support the local production of technology hardware, including processors and semiconductors, via an IPCEI, with targeted aid that could result in investments of up to 50 billion euros ($60 billion).With the demand for semiconductor chips unlikely to dwindle anytime soon, it seems a sensible plan. But there’s currently no cosigner willing to foot the bill or a strategy for exactly where the funding will be directed. That’s understandable since everyone is scrambling to mitigate the core issue. However, Europe will need to act fast against the chance that other regions decide it’s better to hoard the chips they have now than trickling out components to keep global supply chains moving.[Image: Gyuszko-Photo/Shutterstock]
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  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Feb 06, 2021

    Once again, the consequences of managing a supply chain solely to optimize cost become evident. China has played this principle to the utmost, as it has become -- one way or another -- the lowest cost producer of all kinds of things. The supply chain cost optimizers shift to Chinese supply, and other supply dries up. And then . . . I'm not saying that this is the case with chips and China . . . not yet. But it will be unless the pencil-heads figure out how to add a value for supply chain diversity into their spreadsheets. As the sole-sourced products become increasingly sophisticated, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop alternate supply quickly. It's not like inventing fracking to break the mid-east petroleum monopoly. Back in the antediluvian days, that was the reason for vertical integration. It minimized the risk of supply chain disruption, but it was not the most cost-effective.

    • NN NN on Feb 08, 2021

      What goes around comes around. Vertical integration is coming back into vogue as supply constraints and national conflicts illustrate the need for ownership of your supply chain. The great migration to Asia in manufacturing was based off of endless low cost & willing labor resources. With high levels of automation, building manufacturing capabilities in high-cost areas becomes feasible again. Tesla builds in California, soon Texas and Germany (and yes, China also). They use high levels of automation and do a lot in-house. Hate all you want on Elon, he's built the machine that makes the machine. They were buying chips from NVIDIA but started making their own I believe last year.

  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Feb 07, 2021

    Just like in the 1960s, where the West became over dependent on Middle East oil, and became an easy embargo target, nowadays it has become over dependent on Far East electronics.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?