BERLIN -- The German auto industry association VDA said a shortage of semiconductors would continue to negatively impact car production in the short and medium term.
During the organization's mid-year conference call with reporters on Wednesday, VDA President Hildegard Müller called for an EU-wide approach to shoring up semiconductor manufacturing capacity.
Müller said the "exponential increase" in demand for microchips requires a long-term solution.
"The auto industry is not the only one dealing with this shortage, that makes the discussion more complex," she said. "In the short and middle term, it will be difficult to find solutions."
Earlier this week, the VDA cut its forecast for production growth in Germany to 3 percent from 13 percent previously, noting production had fallen "significantly below expectations" in recent months. It now expects 3.6 million cars to be made in Germany this year, down by 400,000 units from its last forecast.
Mercedes-Benz said on Tuesday that deliveries during the second quarter were "significantly" curtailed by a lack of chips. The shortages were particularly acute last month and the carmaker expects the supply-chain crunch to persist during the coming two quarters, the company said in a statement announcing its first-half vehicle sales.
The VDA also cut its growth forecast for 2021 car sales in Germany to 3 percent from 8 percent, citing production hurdles posed by semiconductor shortages. The VDA now expects German sales to be at 3.15 million units this year.
EVs' biggest hurdle
On Wednesday, the VDA warned against a possible European Union de facto ban on combustion engines from 2035 and called for more investment in charging stations for electric cars in the bloc. The lack of EV charging stations is the biggest hurdle to greater consumer acceptance of EVs, Müller said.
She pointed to a survey commissioned by the VDA and conducted by Allensbach, which found that about 70 percent of Germans are dissatisfied with their local charging network, and only 0.2 percent are very satisfied.
"Those who decide to buy an EV should not be worried about the infrastructure not being available," she said. "Ultimately it's the consumer who will decide whether electromobility is successful."
She said currently, around 68 percent of charging points in the EU are available in just three states: Germany, France and the Netherlands.
"To reach more than a million charging points for electric cars in Germany by 2030, 2,000 new charging points need to be built every week, and at least 6 million charging points are needed across the EU," she said. That is 12,000 per week, and we are currently at 2,700 per week EU-wide. This is not a good signal to send to consumers."
Plug-in hybrid controversy
Müller also called plug-in hybrid vehicles a good option for consumers looking for an entry point into the sustainable mobility market.
She said there were different opinions between the automakers as to how to proceed with plug-in hybrids but said customers should make the decision whether to buy one, not the VDA.
Müller highlighted the German auto industry's investment of around 150 billion euros in climate-neutral mobility, new drive systems, and digitalization by 2025.
She called for a balanced approach to the industry's transformation that balanced environmental concerns with economic realities. "Our industry finds itself in the middle of the biggest transformation in its history, from digitalization to the move to electric vehicles," she said. "Germany must craft a climate neutral, digital, autonomous future."
The industry's transformation means that additional research is needed into alternative fuels as well as software and cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, the VDA said.
Müller dismissed concerns that the upcoming IAA Munich auto show organized by the VDA in September could be canceled due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. She said a flexible hygiene concept that can adapt to changing situations and close coordination with city officials.
She also addressed the topic of job losses across the industry as it transforms to electrification, noting it is working closely with the Federal employment office to find alternative industries where people with those skill sets are still needed.
"We need to create new positions to reflect the new technologies the auto industry needs," she said. "This transformation is complex, and not everyone who works in the production of combustion engines will find a job in the new digital industry."
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report