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Chip Shortage, COVID to Slow Auto Recovery, IHS Markit Says

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

The continuing computer chip shortage and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will slow down the auto industry’s recovery, forecasting company IHS Markit said in a presentation today.

The industry “can sell what we make,” Colin Couchman, executive director, global light vehicle forecasting for IHS Markit, said in a webinar. “We can only make what we have the parts for.”

The pandemic first slammed the industry in early 2020. Temporary plant shutdowns took place as new safety procedures were implemented. Since then, COVID has presented a threat to economic expansion.

During this year, a global shortage of semiconductors forced new temporary factory closings as automakers adjusted. That shortage continues to plague the auto industry.

“Every part of the world is impacted to some degree,” Couchman said.

IHS forecast that global light-vehicle sales will rise to 82.4 million in 2022, up from an expected 79.4 million this year.

Deliveries should accelerate in later years, the forecasting company said. IHS Markit forecasts worldwide sales of 90.1 million vehicles in 2023 and 96.4 million in 2024.

In the U.S., IHS Markit said light-vehicle sales will total almost 15.1 million this year. The company forecasts that will rise to about 15.5 million in 2022, 16.8 million in 2023 and almost 17.6 million in 2024.

Global light-vehicle production should end 2021 at 75.5 million, IHS Markit said. The company forecasts that to rise to 82.3 million in 2022, 90.6 million in 2023 and 96.4 million in 2024.

Automakers are “starting to adapt to limited chip supplies,” Mark Fulthorpe, executive director of light-vehicle production forecasts at IHS Markit, said on the webinar. “It’s not going to be a simple process.”

All of this is occurring as automakers are ramping up their investments in electric vehicles. The industry is under regulatory pressure to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. The companies are juggling their EV development with production of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. 

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