Shortage of critical item having big impact on car makers

New car sales are soaring but makers are struggling to meet demand thanks to global shortage of a tiny computer chip.

Car makers are finding it hard to get their hands on semiconductors, which are a vital component for car infotainment and other hi-tech features.

The shortage stems from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, when most car makers cut their orders believing there would be a long downturn in car sales. Car sales rebounded much quicker than expected and car makers were caught short after semiconductor makers diverted supply to hi-tech electronic devices such as PlayStations and iPads, which were in high demand during lockdown.

Volkswagen Australia has just announced significant supply delays to several popular models including the new Mark 8 Golf hatchback, Golf GTI and Tiguan 162TSI.

The semiconductor shortage is affecting the Harman Kardon stereo in the Golf and the dual-clutch auto in the Golf GTI.

The gearbox components are also affecting the supply of the Tiguan 162TSI, which is the brand’s best selling vehicle.

Volkswagen Australia boss Michael Bartsch says struggling to get the desired amount of production of certain models is a fact of life for European importers.

“While the semiconductor shortage poses no significantly greater issue than those our brands deal with on a weekly basis, it’s important that customers are made aware of them,” says Mr Bartsch.

“While certain of our popular variants are temporarily in short supply, VGA is in a position to offer customers an array of choices. The situation is subject to rapid change. We are in daily contact with head offices to seek means of improving the supply of affected variants.”

Top-spec Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI variants have been hit by an eight-eek delay and even certain variants of its big Crafter van won’t be available in big numbers until next year.

Volkswagen isn’t the only brand dealing with supply issues with several big makers globally affected.

Kia Australia chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, believes the long wait time for new car orders caused by the semiconductor shortage has led to a loss of about 20 per cent of possible sales as buyers get tired of waiting.

Skoda’s excellent Kamiq 85TSI small SUV, which was named the 2020 News Corp Car of the Year, won’t be available until much later this year.

Ford and GM announced this week in the US that they have stopped fitting stop-start features in some cars.

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