Global Semiconductor Chip Shortage in Automotive Industry Fading, Says S&P Global Mobility

A Global Shortage of Semiconductor Chips is Fading, Says S&P Global Mobility

Introduction

A global shortage of semiconductor chips was the automotive industry’s kryptonite for most of 2021 and 2022. But the crisis is now fading, S&P Global Mobility said Thursday.

The Impact of the Chip Shortage

The chip shortage cost the industry the production of about 9.5 million light vehicles in 2021, according to S&P Global Mobility estimates, and another 3 million in 2022. In the first half of 2023, production cutbacks tied to chip shortages fell to about 524,000 vehicles. Supply remains constrained, but automakers have been able to adapt production schedules as chip availability becomes more predictable, S&P Global Mobility said.

Auto Industry’s Adaptation

“We are now in a position where the auto industry has adapted to a constrained supply, and as a result is much less likely to be hit by significant disruption,” Mark Fulthorpe, S&P Global Mobility executive director of global light vehicle production, said in a statement.

Sam Fiorani, AutoForecast Solutions vice president for global vehicle forecasting, said chip supply has improved but warned it can be hard to measure exactly how shortages are still impacting production.

Still, Fiorani said, automakers’ efforts to build closer partnerships with chip suppliers to secure their supply chains and reduced chip demand from other industries have alleviated the worst of the shortage.

“Manufacturers realized they had a problem and have found ways around them,” he said. “We’re not completely out of the woods yet but we’re far better than we have been at any other point in the last two years.”

The Future of Semiconductor Chips in the Auto Industry

New vehicles increasingly depend on a variety of semiconductor chips to power infotainment systems and advanced safety and autonomy features. The industry needs more chips than ever to keep vehicle production rolling, S&P Global Mobility said.

The good news is that as vehicles get more technologically advanced, the chips required to build them will be more profitable components, making it more likely that chip makers will want to make the parts for the auto industry, Fiorani said.

Ongoing Challenges and Outlook

Some types of semiconductor chips are still in short supply and trade tensions between the U.S. and China remain a source of uncertainty in chip supply chains, S&P Global Mobility said. Demand for consumer grade chips for mobile phones and personal computers is cooling, but S&P Global Mobility expects to see those rates rebound.

The impact of the chip supply crisis in 2021 and 2022 will linger for years. Before the pandemic, S&P Global Mobility forecasted that global automotive sales and production would exceed 100 million vehicles annually as soon as 2022. On Thursday, the firm said that milestone now likely will not be reached until after 2030.

Current Semiconductor Supply Levels

S&P Global Mobility estimates that current semiconductor supply levels can support about 22 million global light vehicles per quarter.

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