Global chip shortage hits BMW, Apple, Ford as crisis worsens
The global chip shortage is going from bad to worse with automakers on three continents joining tech giants Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in flagging production cuts and lost revenue from the crisis.
In quick succession, Honda Motor Co. said it will halt production at three plants in Japan for around five to six days next month; BMW AG flagged it will pause Mini car production at its Oxford, England, factory for three days; and Ford Motor Co. reduced its full-year earnings forecast due to the debilitating chip shortage, which it now sees extending into next year.
And now, the very companies that benefitted from surging demand for phones, laptops and electronics during the pandemic that caused the chip shortage, are starting to feel the pinch. After a blockbuster second quarter, Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri warned that supply constraints are crimping sales of iPads and Macs, two products that performed especially well during lockdowns. Maestri said this will knock $3 billion to $4 billion off revenue during the fiscal third quarter.
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Samsung, which is both a producer and user of chips, said Thursday that revenue and profit at its mobile division, which produces its marquee Galaxy smartphones, will slide this quarter because of component shortages and weak demand for flagship models.
The shortfall of critically needed semiconductors has forced the entire auto industry to cut output, leaving thin inventories at dealerships just as consumers emerge from Covid-19 lockdowns. In just the past week, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, Volvo Group and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. have joined the list of carmakers idling factories. Consultant AlixPartners has said the chip shortage could cost automakers $61 billion in lost sales this year.
Beyond Apple, deepening chip shortages threaten to dampen a nascent rebound in the entire smartphone market. Worldwide shipments surged an estimated 27% to 347 million devices in the first quarter -- aided by a plethora of new models and China’s swift post-pandemic recovery -- but a shortage of components such as app processors could sap that momentum over the rest of 2021.
“Covid-19 is still a major consideration, but it is no longer the main bottleneck," Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton wrote Thursday. “Supply of critical components, such as chipsets, has quickly become a major concern, and will hinder smartphone shipments in the coming quarters."
At Ford, the shortage will likely reduce production by 1.1 million vehicles this year, John Lawler, the company’s chief financial officer, said on a call with reporters.
Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk this week called the chip shortage a “huge problem." NXP Semiconductors NV said it’s expecting supply to be tight all year and warned constraints for the auto industry could extend into 2022.