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A fire at a semiconductor factory in Japan, cold weather in North America and ongoing competition for chips are all hitting the global auto industry at the same time, threatening to exacerbate supply shortages of a key component that began late last year, Bloomberg reports.

Into that perfect storm, throw in the weeks of disruption that will follow in the wake of the Suez Canal blockage by the Ever Given ship, which was finally refloated Monday. Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors all use the canal for exports and automakers are still assessing the impact of the incident.

It’s become almost a national effort to bring the fire-damaged Renesas plant in Ibaraki back online, underscoring how important the facility has become in a supply chain already under strain because of booming demand for chips. Renesas doesn’t expect production to get back to full capacity until June.

Chip shortage adds pressure to Japanese auto production | CNBC TELEVISION
Chip shortage adds pressure to Japanese auto production | CNBC TELEVISION

Some Japanese firms, however, are positioned to benefit from the shortage. Suppliers for the back-end manufacturing of chips are expected to see orders pick up in the second half of the next fiscal year, while one airline expects to be filling up planes with chips to speed deliveries to manufacturers.

Moving back to carmakers, Suzuki will be bidding its long-serving chairman sayonara in June after 40 years, in which time the firm has grown to dominate the Indian car market. Honda, meanwhile, has appointed its R&D chief as its next CEO, as it seeks to step beyond its more than half-a-century-long reliance on gasoline-powered cars.

If only change at Nissan were so smooth. To remove its ex-boss, Carlos Ghosn, it took a criminal case and an in-company investigation into his affairs. But when the top in-house lawyer tasked with leading the Nissan probe raised difficult questions about the investigation, that was when the retaliation, demotions and surveillance started, he tells Bloomberg.

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