WOLFSBURG, Germany -- Germany's automakers may have secured their own energy supplies but thousands of small suppliers faced with a squeeze from soaring bills risk upsetting production through the winter.
More and more suppliers are calling on the industry to renegotiate contracts to include energy clauses so they can cover the cost of rising bills.
BMW, Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz have all said their own energy supplies are secured – but if their supplier network fails, their production lines could come abruptly to a halt.
"If we cannot build a car because of one missing part, that hits all of us," Geng Wu, head of group purchasing at VW said at a supplier conference in Wolfsburg this week.
Facing a tenfold increase in energy costs and two weeks to commit to an energy contract that comes into effect on Jan. 1, Kron Solingen, a molding metals and plastics manufacturer and supplier to the auto and electronics industries, is trying to renegotiate contracts and is running out of time.
"We are asking for help with raw material costs, for clauses incorporating inflation - but the red line is energy costs. If customers do not contribute to those, we cannot go on ... we will cancel the contracts ourselves," sales manager Christian Hofmann told Reuters.
The 112-year-old company, whose customers are mostly larger suppliers in the chain like Bosch, is busy calculating precisely how much electricity goes into each of its products to help in customer negotiations and establish what it could produce with less power, Hofmann said.
Bosch declined to comment on any contract negotiations as did BMW. Mercedes did not respond to a request for comment.
VW said it was in close talks with its suppliers over shared solutions but could not share specifics.
"Our primary goal is to maintain production and avoid negative impacts on business operations," a spokesperson said.
Germany's government has yet to implement its planned relief package for small businesses' energy bills which would give a one-off payment worth one month's gas bill this year and implement a mechanism to limit prices from March.