“You only need to miss one part not to be able to make a car,” said Mark Wakefield, co-leader of consulting firm Alix Partners’ global automotive unit. “Any bump in the road becomes either a disruption of production or a vastly unplanned-for cost increase.”
BMW has halted production at two German factories. Mercedes is slowing work at its assembly plants. Volkswagen, warning of production stoppages, is looking for alternative sources for parts, AP reports.
For more than a year, the global auto industry has struggled with a disastrous shortage of computer chips and other vital parts that has shrunk production, slowed deliveries and sent prices for new and used cars soaring beyond reach for millions of consumers.
Now, a new factor — Russia’s war against Ukraine — has thrown up yet another obstacle. Critically important electrical wiring, made in Ukraine, is suddenly out of reach. With buyer demand high, materials scarce and the war causing new disruptions, vehicle prices are expected to head even higher well into next year.
The war’s damage to the auto industry has emerged first in Europe. But U.S. production will likely suffer eventually, too, if Russian exports of metals — from palladium for catalytic converters to nickel for electric vehicle batteries — are cut off.
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