Some 72,000 electric cars produced in Belgium despite manufacturing issues

Some 72,000 electric cars produced in Belgium despite manufacturing issues
The Audi factory in Forest, Brussels. Credit: Belga

Some 72,000 electric cars were produced in Belgium in 2021 despite the shortages of several vital parts which plagued manufacturers.

The Audi Brussels plant in Forest produced almost 44,000 of its electric vehicles, the Audi e-trons, last year. The previous year, 42,100 such cars were produced at the site.

At the Volvo plant in Ghent, almost 25,000 Volvo electric XC40s and 3,500 electric C40s were manufactured, according to reports from L’Echo. Of all cars produced at the site, some 183,000, around 15% were fully electric.

Both companies faced manufacturing issues last year. They were forced to halt production lines due to a shortage of electronic chips needed for production.

The chips, which serve a variety of purposes in electric vehicles, from monitoring the engine to controlling the air conditioning, are also used in smartphones and laptops, resulting in demand being very high for the product. The unbalance in supply and demand was exacerbated during the pandemic, which impacted distribution chains.

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In June 2021, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) stated that the chip shortage delayed the production of about half a million vehicles worldwide and that its effects were expected to be felt until 2022.

Rising demand driven by new law

This shortage hit the Belgian e-vehicle sector at a critical time, as businesses are increasingly opting for greener alternatives of polluting fossil-fuelled vehicles ahead of the implementation of a law that will result in company cars becoming subject to stricter environmental regulations.

By 2026, the new legislation on the deductibility of company cars will impose zero emissions as a requirement for the cars to be 100% tax-deductible in Belgium.

The impact of this on the demand was already noticeable in 2021, as the number of electrified vehicles (both hybrid and electric cars combined) registered in the country rose by 63.8% in one year resulting in them having a market share of 23.5%, a level comparable to diesel cars.

In 2021, around 1.2 million new electric cars were put into circulation last year in the 18 core countries of Western Europe, including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Great Britain, according to a recent report from German consultant Schmidt Automotive Research.

This equates to 11.2% of all new cars in the market region being all-electric, however, it is important to note that overall, the passenger car market recorded its worst performance in 40 years in 2021.

In a normal average passenger car market year, that same volume of electric vehicles would have equated to just 8.4% mix of the market,” the report stressed.

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