Supplier says car chip crunch to last until 2023
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THE shortage of semiconductors that has forced global car manufacturers to slow production is set to last until 2023, the head of a firm that produces the materials said on Friday.
The coronavirus pandemic caused a boom in consumer demand for electronic devices, but it is the automobile sector that has been hit worst by a lack of chips critical for many systems in modern cars, and many car manufacturers have been forced to temporarily halt production lines.
The shortage will "easily last six to nine quarters" which will put it into 2023, Paul Boudre, chief executive of Soitec, said on France's Radio Classique.
The French firm is a leading producer of the thin silicon wafers on which manufacturers etch circuits to make semiconductors.
"We're in a situation where the auto industry is turning to its supply chain for manufacturing semiconductors in search of much higher production capacity," Boudre said.
"This capacity doesn't exist today, it needs to be built, and it takes time to rebalance the entire chain," he added.
Car manufacturers initially downplayed the severity of the semiconductor shortage, saying it would be minor and short, but the situation has begun to crimp the sector's recovery from the pandemic.
The shortage also comes as the industry is seeking to accelerate its shift to electric vehicles, which is expected to further boost demand for semiconductors.
Based in south-eastern France, Soitec employs more than 1600 people, and expects its sales to boom 40 percent to $950 million (R13.6 billion) in its financial year that ends in June 2022.