A global semiconductor shortage – caused by the coronavirus crisis – is threatening to slam the brakes on vehicle assembly lines around the world.
For now, the impact on new-car deliveries in Australia is unclear, but the shortage has already paused vehicle production in Japan and the UK.
The silicon electrical circuits are used in a wide range of vehicle systems, including cell phone integration, heads-up displays, autonomous driving aids, and infotainment.
The average internal combustion car today uses between 50 to 200 individual chips, while hybrid and electric cars can employ up to 3500 chips.
According to The New York Times, the shortage came about after the technology industry pivoted to making computer components amid forecasts that new vehicle production would plummet during the pandemic.
However, new vehicle demand has remained stronger than expected, leading to the shortage in key components.
Other major car brands approached by CarAdvice declined to comment.
A spokesperson for the Australian Automotive Dealer Association told CarAdvice: “Australia’s dealers experienced supply challenges for most of 2020 due to the effects of factory closures associated with the pandemic and it would be a shame if yet another factor contributes towards a sustained period of stock shortages."
"At this stage it is unclear what the effect of the semiconductor shortage will be and whether any particular makes and models will be specifically affected," the spokesperson added.
"Australia now imports all of its passenger cars leaving retailers and their customers at the mercy of long and complex supply chains.”
Stocks in one of the world’s largest automotive semiconductor manufacturers – Infineon Technologies AG – have increased in value by 12.53 per cent since the shortage was first reported.
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