It seems unlikely that the supply-chain issues in the global automotive industry will be resolved in the next year, says Volkswagen passenger car brands global CEO and former Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) CEO Thomas Schäfer.
He notes that the semiconductor shortage is “still not over”, and that the industry faces “incredible disruptions” in the global supply chain.
There are supply-chain choke points to and from China, as the country persists with lockdowns to execute a zero-Covid policy, while the logistics industry in Europe faces a shortage of truck drivers as many drivers from Ukraine have been pulled into the war with Russia.
Schäfer says Volkswagen has seen cancelled shipments and plant shutdowns worldwide owing to strained supply chains, also in South Africa, despite a situation of “incredible demand”, with order books filled up “to next year”.
He notes that the German carmaker receives supply reports on roughly 80 000 parts every week to determine which parts are available and which parts are in short supply, to see “if we can build cars, or not”.
Sometimes the manufacturer has to scramble to find an alternative supply source for a particular part
also expresses concern about a possible economic storm brewing in Europe as high inflation and rising interest rates do not bode well for the near term.
Europe is South Africa’s biggest new-vehicle export market.
VWSA produces the Polo and Polo Vivo for the local and export markets.•
Schäfer spoke during a media conference on a recent visit to South Africa.