Of all the COVID-19-related setbacks, a shortage of semiconductors was low on the list of issues anticipated by carmakers around the globe. And yet, Volkswagen cautioned that it’s facing production delays due to supply issues.
The German giant released a statement to explain it has to adjust production of every car built on its highly modular MQB platform in Europe, in China, and in North America. MQB underpins numerous nameplates, including the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen Atlas, the Audi A3, the Audi TT, plus several SEAT and Škoda models sold overseas. Bigger models (like the Touareg) and electric cars (like the ID.3) are on a different platform.
Semiconductors are found in a vast majority of new and late-model cars, where they’re part of a wide range of systems ranging from connectivity to electronic driving aids. While the global supply is normally relatively secure and stable, Volkswagen explained suppliers shifted their attention away from the automotive industry and towards consumer electronics earlier in 2020, when car sales nose-dived as a result of the global pandemic.
Car sales recovered more quickly than expected, especially in China, and suppliers are having a difficult time juggling demand from carmakers and from manufacturers of electronic devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which have been in hot demand in 2020 as millions are stuck at home due to lock-down orders. Volkswagen didn’t name the suppliers it purchases semiconductors from, but it pledged to resolve the situation as fast as possible.
“We have come through the crisis well so far, thanks to excellent procurement and production management. However, we are now feeling the effects of the global shortages in semiconductors. We do everything to keep production downtimes as low as possible so that we can deliver to our customers as quickly as possible,” explained Murat Aksel, the group’s board member for purchasing, in a statement.
Volkswagen is the only carmaker who has publicly acknowledged the shortage and its effects, but all of its peers and rivals put semiconductors in their cars; even the most basic models are computerized in 2020. Digital Trends asked Toyota and Ford if they’re experiencing similar issues, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.