When will the global chip shortage end? The 2021 Semicon West, a hybrid virtual-physical conference, featured talks and demonstrations on key semiconductor developments and advances that shine a light on the impending question. Bernard Swiecki, Director of Research at Center for Automotive Research (CAR) from Ann Arbor, MI, spoke about the impact of semiconductor shortages on automobiles.

According to Alix Partners, semiconductor shortages resulted in a loss of 7.7M vehicles and $210B in revenue since 2020. He explained that inventories have not recovered from the pandemic disruption caused by the initial chip shortage. Additionally, inventories for most automakers are still well below the optimal 65-day supply, and shortages will continue to impact auto production into 2023. Even if semiconductors were readily available, shortages of other materials like magnesium could limit the industry’s ability to meet automotive demand.

Swiecki mentioned how electric vehicles would lead to greater dependence on semiconductors for automobile production. While electric vehicles make up 9.3% of the light-vehicle market, their share has increased to over 80% each year. There was a significant increase in electric vehicle plans announced by major automotive companies in 2021 and a significant increase in financial commitments for electric cars. These announcements align with government commitments to electric vehicles, such as Biden’s executive orders to ensure that 50% of all cars are emission-free by 2030.

The 2021 Semicon West conference provided insights into semiconductor equipment spending in order to alleviate issues like semiconductor shortages that impact automobile availability today and enable an EV future.

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