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Global Shortage of Microchips Could Last Into 2023

BMW's Oliver Zipse at the 2021 Munich Motor Show | Photo: BMW
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Daniel Rufiange
The microchip crisis is an indirect consequence of the pandemic, and it’s proving just as resilient

For some time now, it’s been widely reported that dealers’ lots have been steadily emptying due to the ongoing shortage of microchips. Consumers are being told that the vehicle they want is out of stock, and many are having to wait months to get their hands on the model they want. Vehicles are being delivered incomplete to dealerships as they await missing parts. Meanwhile, prices on the used car market are rising due to the lack of new vehicles.

These are some of the realities caused by the chip shortage. When the first effects of the crisis (a shortage of semiconductors for new vehicle manufacturing) were felt, experts were talking about a situation that could last until early 2022.

Now, some major auto manufacturers are talking about 2023.

The Munich Motor Show, on this week, was the occasion for some executives to issue that warning, according to Automotive News.

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Mercedes-Benz EQA
Mercedes-Benz EQA | Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Ola Kallenius, Daimler's chief executive officer said that in his view, the explosion in demand for semiconductors worldwide means that the automotive industry may have trouble getting enough next year and in 2023, although he believes the shortage should be less severe by then. “Several chip suppliers have mentioned structural problems with demand,” he said. “This could influence the year 2022. The situation could be more relaxed in 2023.”

Mercedes-Benz’s official hope is that there will be a recovery in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz.

For his part, BMW top boss Oliver Zipse said he expects “that the general tightness of the supply chains will continue in the next six to 12 months.” He specified that he did not see any long-term problems, adding that the automotive industry was an attractive customer for chipmakers.

At Volkswagen Group, Herbert Diess said shortages would continue over the next few months, if not years, because semiconductors are in high demand. According to him, demand is only growing and increasing production capacity will take time. “It will be probably a bottleneck for the next months and years to come,” he predicted.

Volkswagen ID.4
Volkswagen ID.4 | Photo: D.Boshouwers

Volkswagen purchasing manager Murat Aksel said semiconductor supply remains very volatile and tight in the third quarter. “We hope for a gradual recovery by the end of the year.” He added that he believes the global automotive microchip industry would need about 10 more chip capacity to effectively meet demand. Which, if correct, sheds some light on the current situation. Clearly, automakers will be able to produce vehicles, but they won't be supplying at the rate they would like or had planned.

Luca de Meo, top man at Renault, said the shortage situation was more difficult than expected in the current quarter. According to him, the next one should allow the French automaker to see some improvement. Renault is sticking to its updated forecast of a 200,000-unit production cut in 2021. At Daimler, rather than seeing an increase in sales this year compared to 2020, as had been anticipated at the outset, it will be more of a flat performance.

And the problem won't go away on its own, as vehicles have become increasingly dependent on microchips, whether for computerized engine management for better fuel economy or for driver assistance functions.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists