Belgian automakers suspend production again as chip shortage continues

Belgian automakers suspend production again as chip shortage continues
Credit: Belga

Production lines will close at Ghent’s Volvo factory and the Audi one in Brussels this week due to a shortage of electronic chips needed for production.

This isn’t the first time both factories have had to cease production due to the shortage, which has been ongoing throughout the global coronavirus pandemic.

Microchips can be found by the dozen in newer cars and can serve a variety of purposes, from monitoring the engine to controlling the air conditioning.

But the same chips are also used in smartphones and laptops, and demand for these types of electronics skyrocketed during the pandemic as a result of more people working from home. Strict lockdown measures have also impacted distribution chains.

The chip shortage has delayed the production of about half a million vehicles worldwide, according to the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), and its effects are expected to be felt until 2022.

“The second quarter of 2021 was very difficult and we are still seeing production delays,” said CLEPA’s president, Thorsten Muschal.

“Although the crisis is not yet over, we believe that the worst is behind us and that the situation will not deteriorate further. However, the effects may still be felt a little in 2022.”

CLEPA drafted a series of recommendations for Europe, saying that “a rapid response to the semiconductor crisis is necessary to strengthen the competitiveness of the European Union and protect the jobs of thousands of European citizens.”

Audi Brussels says that while the supply of chips will remain tight over the next few months - and that they therefore cannot rule out further adjustment to production - they expect the situation to improve.

“It seems that the lowest point of the crisis has been reached,” said factory spokesperson Peter D'Hoore. “We expect an improvement in the second half of the year.”

Audi’s production line in Brussels will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Volvo in Ghent will cease production for the entirety of next week.

The Brussels Times

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