- Traton Group, a Volkswagen subsidiary, is taking extreme measures to finish building trucks.
- It’s taking parts from finished but unsold vehicles and putting them in unfinished, sold ones.
- A devastating shortage of computer chips has upended vehicle production for months.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The worldwide shortage of computer chips has forced automakers to do some really odd stuff to keep as many vehicles rolling off of production lines as possible.
The latest weirdness: a Volkswagen trucking subsidiary is stealing parts from finished but unsold vehicles and sticking them in trucks with waiting customers. It’s the latest indication that the chip crisis that has bogged down auto production and sent car prices skyrocketing is far from over.
Traton Group, which builds trucks under the Scania, Navistar, MAN, and Volkswagen brands, said Wednesday that shortages of semiconductor chips and other components are having a “growing impact” on production volumes. The deepening supply-chain issues pushed Traton to start swiping control units from completed trucks.
The company attributed the worsening situation to a recent Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, where much of the auto industry’s chip production takes place. But it also said that “the shortage of numerous other products” will deal a blow to sales in September and still be felt in 2022.
Amid the lack of chips, carmakers have resorted to shutting down production lines and nixing certain features from new vehicles. Navigation systems, screens, and wireless phone chargers have all gotten the ax as automakers funneled available chips to more crucial vehicle components, Bloomberg reported in May. The huge decline in new-vehicle inventory has pushed new and used-car values upward for much of the pandemic.
The shortage and its effects – particularly on used-car prices – are still getting worse, JPMorgan analysts said in a Monday note. In the wake of the Malaysian outbreak, forecaster IHS Markit on Thursday said it expected worldwide light-vehicle production to fall by 6.2% in 2021 and by 9.3% in 2022, the single largest adjustment it has made throughout the chip crisis.