Chip shortage puts a brake on auto industry; hits Europe's biggest carmakers

Chip shortage puts a brake on auto industry; hits Europe's biggest carmakers
Getty Images
Short Url
Updated 28 October 2021

Chip shortage puts a brake on auto industry; hits Europe's biggest carmakers

Chip shortage puts a brake on auto industry; hits Europe's biggest carmakers
  • Both companies have had to repeatedly pause production at some factories due to a lack of chips

The global semiconductor chip shortage worsened and severely hampered carmakers costing Volkswagen and Stellantis a combined 1.4 million vehicles in lost production in the third quarter, Europe's two biggest carmakers said on Thursday.


That led to a 27 percent drop in shipments for Stellantis, a loss of around 600,000 vehicles, which was created at the start of the year from Fiat-Chrysler and Peugeot-Citroen.

The chips are the processors needed in multiple systems in both traditional and electric cars.


Volkswagen AG, Europe's top car company and also the world's No. 2, cut its outlook for deliveries, toned down sales expectations and warned of cost cuts as it reported lower-than-expected quarterly operating profit.


The German company said it had made around 800,000 fewer cars, or about 35 percent less than in the same quarter in 2020.


At Volkswagen the drop in customer deliveries was 24 percent and at GM nearly a third. Ford saw a 27 percent sales drop.


"The level of shortage was slightly higher than we expected in August," acknowledged Stellantis's chief financial officer, Richard Palmer.


The company had already said chip shortages had prevented it from making 700,000 vehicles in the first half of the year.


Meanwhile, Volkswagen said that "the global semiconductor bottlenecks particularly impacted" its performance in the third quarter.


Both companies have had to repeatedly pause production at some factories due to a lack of chips.


Volkswagen, which had previously been forecasting a rise in the number of vehicles it sells, said it now it expects them to be in line with 2020 figures.


But the industry was "through the worst" of the chip crisis, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said in the conference call, predicting the situation would improve in the fourth quarter even if "constraints" continued into 2022.


That view is widely shared by his rivals. 


GM chief Mary Barra said Wednesday that the company has seen "some improvement" in semiconductor availability, with more expected in the first quarter of 2022, although the situation "continues to be somewhat volatile."


In the first half of 2022, "We'll still see impact from the semiconductor shortage," she said, but "we think it will get better towards the end of the year."


Chip availability "markedly improved" in the third quarter from the prior period, even as supply "remains a challenge," Ford said in its earnings release.


"We see it continuing into 2022," Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said on an analyst conference call, adding that the problem could persist into 2023.

Globally, the shortage of computer chips could block the production of 7.7 million vehicles, according to AlixPartners consultancy.


That would result in 180 billion euros ($210 billion) in lost revenue.


Carmakers' sales figures were better than their production data as they have been able to stop discounting vehicles or even raise prices.


Stellantis kept its drop in revenue to 14 percent. It did not provide profit figures, but confirmed its forecast of an annual operating margin around 10 percent.


At VW, sales revenue dipped only 4 percent, thanks in part to a strong performance by its high-end brands. But its operating profit fell by 12 percent and its mass-market brands, including VW, suffered an overall operating loss.


At GM, profits fell 41 percent following a 24 percent drop in revenues amid a broad-based shortfall in sales in all markets and across models.


At Ford, revenues slid just five percent, even if the net profit fell by 23 percent. But Ford lifted its full-year operating profit forecast and said its board voted to reinstate a dividend.


Only Tesla has emerged unscathed, both boosting production in the third quarter and posting record profits.

Its vehicles use fewer chips and it said it was able to adapt to using different ones that were available.


As investors pushed its share price higher the company joined a select club of companies which boast a stock market valuation of over $1 trillion.


Tighter state control eases China's producer inflation in November from 26-year high

Tighter state control eases China's producer inflation in November from 26-year high
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 16 sec ago

Tighter state control eases China's producer inflation in November from 26-year high

Tighter state control eases China's producer inflation in November from 26-year high
  • The jump in consumer prices was mainly driven by increasing food prices

Tighter government control triggered a slowdown in Chinese producer prices as they went up by an annual rate of 12.9 percent in November, easing from the previous month’s 26-year high of 13.5 percent, official data showed.

The loss of steam reflects the efficacy of the government’s policies of controlling commodity prices and supply shortfalls in the previous period. 

The world's second-largest economy has tried to adopt policies of supply and price stabilization to curb the rise in prices.

This would improve policymakers’ ability to boost the economy, Bloomberg reported.

On a monthly basis, producer prices didn’t experience any change in November compared to a 2.5 percent increase a month earlier.

Meanwhile, consumer prices went up by a yearly rate of 2.3 percent, up by 0.8 percent from a month earlier, to hit its highest level since August 2020. 

The inflationary pressures were attributable to last year’s low base effects.

The jump in consumer prices was mainly driven by increasing food prices, which went up by 1.6 percent, accelerating from the previous month’s drop. 

In particular, fresh vegetables prices surged by 30.6 percent while that of pork slumped by 32.7 percent.

In addition, annual core inflation rate, which excludes changes in volatile items such as food and energy, hit 1.2 percent in November dropping by 0.1 percent from October’s level.


Dubai-based organic nappy maker PureBorn raises $2m seed money 

Dubai-based organic nappy maker PureBorn raises $2m seed money 
Updated 10 min 9 sec ago

Dubai-based organic nappy maker PureBorn raises $2m seed money 

Dubai-based organic nappy maker PureBorn raises $2m seed money 
  • The female-led company will use the funds to expand internationally and further its product development

DUBAI: Dubai-based startup PureBorn, which produces eco-friendly baby products, has raised $2 million in its latest seed funding round. 

The female-led company will use the funds to expand internationally and further its product development, it said in a statement. 

“As a consumer goods, e-commerce business, and a female-owned and run SME (small and medium enterprise), we are thrilled to be paving the way in this exciting category,” PureBorn founder Hannah Curran said.


Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 
Updated 13 min 35 sec ago

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

DUBAI: Egyptian startup Minly is acquiring Dubai-based celebrity shoutout platform Oulo to combine services and reach for an undisclosed value. 

The platforms allow fans to connect with athletes, musicians, and other celebrities, and the merged business will combine the pair’s roster of celebrities across the Arab region. 

“Historically, the majority of pan-Arab celebrities were either Egyptian or Lebanese. Therefore, combining forces unlocks immense synergies as, together, we dominate the two most important sources of cultural content,” Kamal Nazha, Oula’s founder, said.

The acquisition follows Minly’s recent seed round where it raised $3.6 million off the back of a year of growth for the platform. It acquired 130,000 users and 1,000 celebrities in just over a year.

“Our mission is to become the number one creator economy platform in the region, and speed to market is critical to achieving this,” Minly chief Mohamed El-Shinnawy told Tech Crunch in an interview. 


Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
Close-up of Gazprom Neft truck. Translation of a sign in Russian means Gazprom Oil. Shutterstock
Updated 38 min 2 sec ago

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
  • The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, expects its hydrocarbon production to exceed 100 million tons of oil equivalent this year, reaching a record high, it said on Thursday.


Gazprom Neft had aimed to reach the 100 million tons target by 2020 but had to delay that due to production restrictions agreed by the OPEC+ group of leading oil producing countries.


The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region, as its key oilfields in Western Siberia are beсoming increasingly depleted.


Gazprom Neft said on Thursday that higher production volumes in 2021 have been supported by the commissioning of the Tazovskoye field in the Yamal-Nenets region, as well as the launch of a new integrated gas treatment plant at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field.


The company also said it would increase investment next year.


“In 2022, Gazprom Neft’s total investment is expected to increase by more than 10 percent, with funding for the investment program expected to exceed 500 billion roubles ($6.8 billion),” it said.


Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 09 December 2021

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
  • As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms

Italian regulators hit Amazon with a 1.1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) antitrust fine Thursday for allegedly abusing its dominance in the market, the latest action against US Big Tech in the EU.


US technology giants have been in the firing line in the European Union over their business practices.


In the latest salvo, Italy’s competition watchdog said Amazon abused its dominant position by promoting its own logistics service on its Italian platform to the detriment of third-party sellers who did not use it.


“The abusive strategy adopted by Amazon is particularly serious, since it is likely to discourage, if not eliminate competition in the relevant markets,” read the 250-page decision.


The move comes two weeks after the same authority imposed a 68.7 million euro fine on Amazon for infringing EU laws through restrictions that penalized sellers of Apple and Beats products.


In the same action, Apple was ordered to pay 134.5 million euros.


As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms, after Washington pledged to intensify scrutiny of the technology industry.


Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Italian watchdog said Thursday that third-party sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics service are excluded from “a set of advantages essential for obtaining visibility and better sales prospects.”


Those included better access to Amazon’s “most loyal and high-end customers” who use Amazon Prime, the e-commerce giant’s loyalty program.


Moreover, a tough performance measurement system is reserved for sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics system, which can lead, if failed, to suspension of the seller’s account.


“In doing so, Amazon has harmed competing e-commerce logistics providers by preventing them from presenting themselves to online sellers as service providers of comparable quality to Amazon’s logistics,” said the watchdog, adding that such conduct had “increased the gap between Amazon’s power and that of its competitors.”


In its decision, the authority said it had imposed measures on Amazon subject to review by a monitor.


The company must grant sales privileges and visibility to all third-party sellers who meet fair and non-discriminatory standards for fulfilment, and must decide and publish such standards, it said.


Last month, EU legislation to impose unprecedented restrictions on how US tech giants do business passed a first, significant hurdle, with a European Parliament committee approving their version of the Digital Markets Act.


That would slap far-reaching rules on companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.


Such tech companies have been variously accused of stifling competition, not paying enough taxes, stealing media content and threatening democracy by spreading fake news.