Stellantis expects semiconductor shortages to re-emerge on growing demand from electric vehicles at a time of increased geopolitical risk, making the current respite short-lived.
The risk of a return of severely stretched chip supply “will increase dramatically” in coming years as vehicle software functions balloon, said Joachim Kahmann, who oversees semiconductor purchases for the automaker.
In the last two years, the huge diversity of semiconductors in cars meant "we had multiple issues everywhere, and once we solved one topic, a new topic popped up," he said Tuesday in an interview.
As Stellantis shifts to EVs requiring more complex chips and common platforms, any shortage "may impact not only one or two of our plants but maybe five or six or seven."
Protracted bottlenecks on semiconductor supply hit vehicle output in the aftermath of the pandemic. While the crisis may be over, chip capacity remains constrained and amid heightened geopolitical risk after China said it would restrict exports of two metals used in the semiconductor and EV industries.
To mitigate those risks, Stellantis is inking deals with Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductors and Qualcomm, among others, and is setting up a semiconductor database with order plans that stretch years into the future.
Stellantis expects to spend 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion) through 2030 to secure various kinds of semiconductors, the automaker said Tuesday.
The company also is working with AiMotive and SiliconAuto to develop its own semiconductors.
Kahmann said China’s restriction on exports of gallium and germanium should be manageable, but rising tensions with China "is definitely a topic." Stellantis is working to reduce reliance on chips from both China and Taiwan, he said.
For now, the chip situation "is much improved" with sufficient supply for second half of the year, though it’s "just a matter of time" for the next bottleneck to come up, he added.