Germany's Altmaier Appeals to Taiwan to Boost Chip Supply

26 Janvier, 2021, 20:49 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Germany Urges Taiwan to Help Ease Auto Chip Shortage Affecting Ford Toyota Volkswagen Others

Taiwan's chipmakers have told local government officials they're doing what they can to alleviate the shortage of semiconductors that is cutting into vehicle production after approaches by the U.S., the European Union, Germany and Japan.

"Since the end of past year, diplomatic channels have indeed received requests from the countries concerned due to the shortage of automotive chips", the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, after media reported that the German minister from Economics Peter Altmaier had written to the Taiwanese government about the problem. "The issue is being handled at a higher level in the [Taiwanese] government", a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.

TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker, stated that current production capacity is full, but had assured the ministry that "if production can be increased by optimising production capacity, it will cooperate with the government to regard automotive chips as a primary application".

The lack of supply is not only affecting companies but the economy as well. At the same time, automakers curtailed orders for semiconductors and chips used in vehicle production earlier past year.

"The semiconductor shortage will probably continue for several months", said a senior official at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. "Industries under pressure such as automobiles are likely to ask for increased production". Subaru has suspended operations on some days at its sole Japanese production facility in Gunma Prefecture.

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The shortages have only impacted automakers recently as auto sales have bounced back in the second half of 2020, but in Taiwan where much of the world chips are produced, the country is offering its assistance. Worldwide auto manufacturers are forced to stop production due to the supply problems of the specific components. It appears that the company is also urging domestic chip suppliers to provide full assistance to the requests from other countries. TSMC is caught between the two superpowers as it once counted Huawei Technologies as a key customer, while also supplying Xilinx, an American tech company whose chips are used for F-35 fighter jets.

The ministry said the major global auto makers are not direct customers of Taiwanese semiconductor chip makers, but other auto chip makers place orders with Taiwanese manufacturers and sell them to auto makers.

Releasing its earnings report earlier this month, TSMC said its supply capacity will remain tight in the short term due to a quick recovery in auto demand.

"It is our top priority, and TSMC is working closely with our automotive customers to resolve the capacity support issues", it said.

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