VW may seek damages from Bosch and Conti over chip shortages

Volkswagen is in talks with its main suppliers about possible claims for damages due to a shortage of semiconductors, a company spokesman said.

The spokesman’s comments came after Automobilwoche reported that VW may seek compensation from Robert Bosch and Continental after the automaker was forced to reduce production in Germany because of a lack of automotive microchips.

“For Volkswagen, the top priority is to minimize the effects of the semiconductor bottleneck on production,” the VW spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.

VW wanted to resolve the problem in close cooperation with its suppliers but this exchange would also include examining claims of damages with its suppliers, the spokesman said.

VW has had to cut output at its car factories of Wolfsburg and Emden, and a component plant in Brunswick, because of a shortage of microchips.

The automaker is talking to alternative suppliers and wants Bosch and Continental share the burden and partly compensate the company for the resulting additional costs, Automobilwoche, a German language sister publication of Automotive News Europe, reported.

Analysts said VW could have a case for winning money back from the partsmakers.

If the suppliers ordered too few chips to meet their delivery obligations, they are likely to end up sharing in the costs of the production stoppages, said analyst Frank Biller of LBBW.

Frank Schwope, of NordLB, said the costs are likely to be in the two- to three-digit million range. However, the costs could be reduced if VW made up for the lost production later in the year, he said.

Bosch said such issues are discussed directly with its customers and suppliers. “We are currently focusing on maintaining supply chains as much as possible despite a tense situation in the market,” a Bosch spokesman told Automobilwoche.

Continental did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ford, Daimler and Audi are among automakers that have also been forced to cut production at factories in Germany.

Daimler could follow VW in seeking damages from the suppliers.

“We currently see our primary task as successfully minimizing the impact of the global supply bottleneck,” a Daimler spokeswoman told Automobilwoche. “We are clarifying negative effects bilaterally and in partnership,” she added.

BMW has not been affected by the supply bottlenecks but its sales chief Pieter Nota told journalists last week: “We have ordered the volume for 2021 and we expect our suppliers to comply on time.”

BMW won damages from Bosch in 2017 when the automaker was forced to shut down production lines because of a bottleneck at an Italian company that supplied the casings for Bosch’s electronic-steering systems.

BMW demanded a mid-double-digit million sum in damages from Bosch. The claim was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Manufacturers of microchips increased production for smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung when car factories were closed and demand for autos plunged during the first coronavirus lockdowns last year. They are struggling to meet rebounding demand from automotive companies because of  the semiconductor industry’s lengthy manufacturing process.

Zdroj: Automobilwoche
8.February 2021