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Volkswagen’s truck unit warns that the chip crisis will undermine sales.


Volkswagen’s truck unit is facing “serious difficulties” in buying semiconductors that weigh on sales at a time when demand is soaring, the company warned Wednesday, with the latest sign of how a global chip shortage is slowing economic growth.

Traton, the maker of Scania, MAN and Navistar trucks, said it was also suffering from shortages of other critical components.

The shortfalls come as the global economy slowly recovers as new coronavirus cases decline and consumers spend money saved during pandemic lockdowns. To meet demand, the company cannibalizes parts from finished but unsold vehicles and installs them in trucks that have firm orders.

As a result, sales from July to September will be “significantly lower than planned,” although customers are clamoring for trucks, Traton said. “Problems in the supply chain will have a stronger impact than expected.” Volkswagen owns 90 percent of the truck manufacturer, which has a separate stock exchange listing.

Raw materials such as steel and aluminum have also become scarcer, partly because manufacturers did not expect demand to recover so quickly. The deficits are preventing the global economy from recovering from the pandemic as quickly as it could otherwise.

“It’s not just the semiconductor problems that are stretching global supply chains right now — it’s the shortage of many other products as well,” Matthias Gründler, Traton’s CEO, said in a statement. He said he expects the shortages to continue until 2022.

Trucks are increasingly equipped with autonomous driving functions and other advanced electronics that require semiconductors. Chipmakers were unprepared for increased demand from automakers and are struggling to maintain production in the face of lockdowns in places such as Malaysia, a major semiconductor producer.

Earlier this week, a chief executive of Daimler’s truck division said she too was suffering. “The situation has become more challenging for us” in the third quarter, Karin Radstrom, head of trucks for the Mercedes-Benz brand, said during an online press conference on Tuesday.

“We’re really fighting for every truck at the moment to get it out of the gate,” Ms Radstrom said, “because customer demand is very, very good.”

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