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"Top topic" at the VW board level: chip shortage

According to VW brand boss Ralf Brandstätter, the bottlenecks in the supply of important electronic parts could keep the auto industry busy longer. "I think the situation will definitely remain tense," he told the financial news agency dpa-AFX and the German press agency. During the peak of the corona crisis in the automotive industry last year, semiconductor manufacturers relocated their supplies to other industries. Finally, there were also problems with chip producers themselves.

Due to the shortage, several car manufacturers had to cancel shifts and cut production. However, under the old full load as before the pandemic, operations in many places did not yet run like this - hygiene and distance rules must continue to be observed. Corona should continue to shape the world of work afterwards, says Brandstätter.

Snow storm in Texas

Regarding the situation with semiconductors, he said: “The snow storm in Texas or the fire at Renesas in Japan - these are large capacities that have not produced for a certain time. These effects will certainly still be felt in the next few months. ”The VW Group's procurement task force does not deal“ around the clock with anything else ”, it is a“ top topic also at board level ”. From summer onwards, a relaxation can be foreseen: “We are assuming that it will be a bit quieter again in the second half of the year.” There are currently no components missing in the production of the new ID series.

Where shift failures cannot be avoided, special semiconductor parts are usually involved - “as was the case recently in Emden, then you simply cannot build the Passat.” When it comes to replaceable parts, Volkswagen sets priorities for high-yield models. “That is also weighed up in the group as to how the allocation is made - very transparently, so that every brand knows where it is. We drive on sight, you mustn't lose your nerve too quickly. "

One measure against the supply crisis is to increase the exchange with suppliers. “To stock up a little in the supply chain, certainly too.” He can understand demands for more German semiconductor production. Brandstätter, however, restricted: “I think it's more a question of capacity and not of the production location. We have all switched to digital work, procured laptops, and many schools have upgraded with computers and tablets. There was of course a huge demand. "

VW recently concretized its savings targets in terms of personnel. For example, offers for early retirement or partial retirement are being expanded. Overall, the fixed costs for the core brand are to fall by 5 percent by 2023 - within the framework of existing programs.

"We have to manage and design three tasks in parallel: the Corona crisis, the greatest upheaval in the automotive industry towards electric drives and digitization, and we have to make our contribution to climate protection together," said Brandstätter. Part of the necessary restructuring is “that we cut 4,000 jobs in the administration through digitization and efficiency gains in order to create 2,000 new digital jobs at the same time”. Until further notice, as few new staff as possible should be brought in from outside. The manager also sees further savings potential in the technology area.

The VW brand boss estimates that the significant changes in many operational processes will have consequences well into the post-Corona period. "After the pandemic, we will also have a number of advantages in terms of costs." The current expenditure on hygiene measures in the factories and offices is high. At the same time, however, “productivity reserves” would become visible if - as is currently the case - one often does not “drive the perfect timing” due to the distance rules.

Vaccination offensive planned

In the medium term, the world of work will change as a result of the new processes and increasing digitalization so that there will be less business travel. "In the past we spent 100 million euros a year on travel expenses alone," said Brandstätter. "We are now at more than 25 million." In other respects, too, some corona effects are likely to exist, he believes: "Mobile working will no longer be indispensable, so you will need much less, but also more modern office space in the future."

Corona vaccinations should start as soon as possible, everything has been prepared at VW, said Brandstätter. Here, too, the preparations would first have to arrive in sufficient quantities: "When the vaccine is available, we will start our vaccination offensive."