Carmakers get inventive as global chip crisis bites

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By Christina Amann

MUNICH, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Whether buying computer chips directly from manufacturers, reconfiguring cars, or producing them with parts missing, automakers are having to get creative to cope with the global shortage of semiconductors.

The shortage, due to supply problems and a surge in demand for consumer electricals during the pandemic, has hit the auto industry hard, with millions of vehicles worldwide not being produced because important parts are missing.

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With the problem lasting longer than initially expected, manufacturers including Daimler DAIGn.DE and Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE have had to rethink production strategies.

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Car manufacturers usually buy parts from major suppliers such as Bosch ROBSCJ.UL and Continental CONG.DE, which in turn buy from suppliers further down the chain.

In some cases that has led to a lack of transparency, said Ondrej Burkacky, a senior partner at McKinsey.

There was the fallacy of thinking that you had a choice between two suppliers, but the truth is that they both had the chips made in the same foundry, he said.

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That is now changing, according to Daimler Purchasing Manager Markus Schfer.

The German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars has set up a direct line of communication with all chip suppliers, including wafer producers in Taiwan, he said at the IAA auto show in September.

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