观点 | 车企缺芯真相究竟是什么?

Point of view | what is the truth of the lack of core in a car company?

盒飯財經 ·  Oct 21, 2021 22:46

Source: box lunch Finance and Economics

Author: Ren Yafei

The landlord has no surplus grain, but the car companies are still lining up for the core. Musk, who has always spoken bluntly, complained on Twitter about the current situation of grabbing the core, "just like robbing toilet paper." He Xiaopeng, on the other hand, retweeted the Bosch boss's circle of friends, saying, "it is even more bitter to cut off the supply. If you want to raise your glass, it is even more sorrowful." "

One core beats the global automobile industry.

Hoarding, price increase and black market sweep have become daily.

Zhao Zhanxiang, partner and chief technology officer of Yunqi Capital, told the box lunch that when Yunxing made financial forecasts for a company that makes automotive MCU chips (microcontrollers) last year, the calculation method was to see which customers it had and how many orders each customer would probably place. Making financial forecasts for some customers this year is not based on what customers you have, but on how much capacity you have.

Nowadays, in the case of many car chips, as long as the chips can be made, they can be sold.

Earlier, media quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that due to the decline in delivery volume affected by the "lack of core", Li Auto Inc. purchased thousands of electronic parking chips at a high price on the black market, with a purchase price of 5000 yuan per chip, far more than 800 times the normal price.

Subsequently, Li Auto Inc. responded: "the information is not true." But behind the news, it is a reality to reveal the current situation of the global shortage of automotive chips.

As early as in July this year, a netizen posted that a stall in Huaqiang Beixin Asia Electronic Mall had completed a transaction of 20 million yuan. The target of the transaction is a batch of 2000 chips, and the buyer is a semiconductor company affiliated to one of the top three car companies in China, which commissioned a trading company to purchase.

According to people familiar with the chip deal, the normal price of the chip is about 1500 yuan, an increase of as much as six times. It was only later that people realized that the premium was "generous" in the trading of a large number of black market chips.

According to China Business report, Bosch's original price of 13 yuan per ESP (body stabilization system) chip, the current black market price of 4000 yuan per chip, nearly 300 times higher.

"if you really want to buy it at a high price, you will definitely have to cut the order compared to before. For example, the original order is 200k, in order to emergency buy 5k, 10k will come to an end, will not be as many as the original purchase. Yang Yong, founder of Shagu Technology, told us.

When will the chip crisis be alleviated? several people in the industry told the box lunch finance and economics that the optimistic situation is that in the second half of next year, "sometimes it will be particularly tight, sometimes it may be loosened". If not, it may last until the beginning of 2023.

Under the "chip panic", why has the auto industry been hit so hard? Under the tide of lack of core, what strange tricks can auto companies make in order to ensure production? Why does a chip become a rare commodity? What is the truth about the missing core of a car? We talked to a number of senior people in the industry.

Core Battle

The landlord has no surplus grain, but the car companies are still lining up for the core.

Xu Daquan, executive vice president of Bosch China, said on moments on August 17 that he had just been informed that the Malaysian Muar factory of a semiconductor chip supplier had closed down a few weeks before, and that part of the production line had been shut down by the local government until August 21 last night. Bosch ESP/IPB, VCU, TCU and other chips will be directly affected, and it is expected that the supply will be cut off in August.

He also meaningfully matched a picture: building, sixth floor; jump or no jump; with the leader or not?

This picture was followed by a response from Zhu Yanfeng, chairman of Dongfeng Motor. He teased Xu Daquan at the 17th International Forum on the Development of China's Automobile Industry (Teda). "now the bosses of almost all automobile companies are squatting in Shanghai (Bosch China headquarters) for chips, and Xu is about to jump off a building. The difference is that someone is pushing him to jump behind, and someone is picking him up below. "

Who will answer? The bosses of the major car companies, of course. At the door of Bosch's Shanghai headquarters in China, these people played "turnip squatting" early.

At the shareholders' meeting of Changan Automobile in May, Chairman Zhu Huarong said: "in order to ensure the normal production of the company, senior leaders have been squatting in Shanghai." "

From May 4 to 9, Executive Vice President Liu Bo was in Shanghai, "communicating with chip dealers every day, in the morning and in the afternoon."

From May 9 to 14, President Wang Jun has been squatting at Bosch's Shanghai headquarters to negotiate with suppliers.

Chang'an is competing not only with himself for time, but also with his competitors. According to media reports, the purchasing task force of the Great Wall, Dongfeng and other auto companies was also running to Shanghai. Bosch could not squeeze any more, so they went to the gate of the contract factory and closed testing plant to block the responsible persons who had left work.

All available means have been used.

"We actually gave up some orders because we couldn't handle it. It is true that the real income has decreased, but the losses have also been reduced. A person in the chip industry said frankly to the box lunch finance and economics that it is now tantamount to "no compensation, no compensation if you do it."

Zhang Yuesai, general manager of GAC MOTOR, went to the circle of friends to cast a wide net and look for sources of goods. "Gods in the circle: buy ST chips in large quantities, and those who have resources can contact at any time."

SAIC-Volkswagen executives have formed a "core-grabbing team". According to the China Business News: at present, German Volkswagen and Volkswagen China have carried out coordination with suppliers around the world, and SAIC Volkswagen is also actively communicating with German Volkswagen and Volkswagen China, and seeking cooperation with relevant parts suppliers.

At present, the automobile industry has even given birth to a new way of grabbing the core. According to a number of Taiwan media reports, Tesla, Inc. may book production capacity by paying suppliers in advance to ensure the supply of chips.Volkswagen, Daimler, Toyota and other car companies are considering changing the usual zero-inventory mode of production and extending the contract to ensure adequate production capacity of automotive chips. According to relevant sources, Volkswagen has produced a 12-month, 18-month contract.

Musk, who has always spoken bluntly, complained on Twitter about the current situation of grabbing the core.It's like robbing toilet paper.He Xiaopeng, on the other hand, retweeted the Bosch boss's circle of friends, saying, "it is even more bitter to cut off the supply. If you want to raise your glass, it is even more sorrowful." "

Production reduction and distribution reduction

"the chip crisis has made us very passive. now it is almost impossible to scan any chips on the market, and it is useless to be stuck in the Bosch headquarters in Shanghai. Chip capacity adjustment cycle is also very long, to go through research and development, design, manufacturing, closed testing and other links, not a new production line today, next month can be shipped.The only thing that can be done is to apply the inventory to the production of key models to retain consumers, and all that is left is to wait.An executive of Geely Automobile said frankly to the box lunch finance and economics.

With this increasingly fierce battle for the core, more and more unbearable car companies have chosen to reduce production, postpone delivery, or even "reduce" delivery.

It was first reported that Volkswagen stopped production due to lack of core. In December, Volkswagen officials said that the supply of chips had been affected by the epidemic, but the situation was not serious and was looking for a solution. Three months later, Volkswagen Group CEO Dis announced for the first time that Volkswagen had lost 100000 vehicles in the first two months of this year. Ford followed suit, canceling production plans for two plants, the Fmure 150 pickup truck and the Edge SUVs.

Since then, the "list" of suspending production due to lack of core has been getting longer and longer, with Honda, Nissan, FCA, GM, Daimler and other international giants successively announcing production suspension / reduction plans.


Looking back to China, according to the Daily Business News: due to the chip shortage, Great Wall Motor's production capacity of about 100000 vehicles has been affected; the Red Flag brand has 30, 000 vehicles; Geely's sales in the first half of the year have been affected by about 15% to 20%. The impact on car sales is between 30% and 40%.

Until March, NIO Inc. announced that since the 29th, the Jianghuai NIO Inc. Hefei manufacturing plant stopped production for five working days, once again uncovering the tragedy of lack of cores in the world. NIO Inc. also became the first new energy car company in China to be forced to suspend production due to a "lack of core".

Li Auto Inc., another new force in head car building, was not forced to stop production, but first lowered his Q3 delivery forecast, and then, in order to ensure timely delivery, launched a new plan of "first delivery and then reinstallation of lidar":Only three millimeter wave radars will be installed on vehicles delivered in October and November, while the remaining two are planned to be reinstalled between December and the Spring Festival. Of course, you can also choose to wait until December to bring up five full radar models.

The ideal is not the only one in the new game of "reduced distribution" delivery. GM, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and other car companies have also adjusted the configuration of individual models. For example, Nissan abandoned the in-car navigation function on individual models. Audi provided only one remote key, and the other had to be reissued when the chip was sufficient.

In just the past 20 days in October, four car companies, Ford, Skoda, Nissan and Volkswagen, announced production cuts due to chip shortages: Ford suspended production at a Mexican plant from the 11th to 12th; Skoda Czech plant cut or stopped production from October 18 to the end of this year; Nissan suspended production at two Mexican plants for 11 days and 8 days respectively; Volkswagen suspended production at a Mexican plant from the 6th to 15th.

How much will the global auto industry lose due to the shortage of chips?

According to the global consulting firm iRuiplatin(AlixPartners)The latest projections released in September forecast a sharp increase in car production cuts this year from 3.9 million to 7.7 million, and predicted that global auto industry revenue would fall by $210 billion for the whole of 2021, almost double the $110 billion forecast in May.

Natural and man-made disasters

Behind the global chip shortage, there are many factors intertwined. The concentrated outbreak of car core panic initially stems from the industry's collective miscalculation of demand.

In the early days of the outbreak, people stayed at home, and the industry predicted that global car sales would plummet. As a result, most car companies lowered their sales targets and lowered their demand for spare parts to first-tier suppliers, which in turn further depressed demand from upstream chip manufacturers.

According to the Continental Group, according to the planning cycle of 9: 10 months ahead of schedule, the group began full-year planning at the beginning of 2020, and car sales fell sharply during that year's Q1 and 2019, resulting in a corresponding reduction in demand passed on by automakers to Tier1, a primary supplier.

Then the car market rebounded rapidly in the second half of 2020, and car companies suddenly increased their orders, which caught the upstream supply chain by surprise.

At this time, due to the surge in online office demand triggered by the epidemic, Q4 global PC shipments increased by 10.7% instead of falling. Chip suppliers correspondingly reduced their scheduling plans for automotive chips and shifted to consumer electronics areas such as mobile phones and computers, which are heavily used.

Jiang Xiaoyan, partner of Yunqi Capital, believes that this year, the global shortage of chips has intensified, which is still a problem of supply and demand.Because some chips are universal, car companies are competing not only with their peers, but also with photovoltaic inverters, Internet of things devices, monitors and other fields that use chips. "

"if the demand for wafers in the chip industry grows steadily, there will be no lack of cores, because chip manufacturers are steadily expanding production every year. However, in the second half of last year, the demand for chips in mobile phones, PC and data centers suddenly soared, resulting in a shortage of overall chip production capacity. The transfer of chip production capacity to these areas also caused a squeeze on automotive chips. Zhao Zhanxiang, partner and chief technology officer of Yunxing Capital, told lunch box finance and economics.

STMicroelectronics, for example, has had strong demand for MEMS and sensors as well as some models of MCU in the past, and the standard lead time of 16-20 weeks has been extended to 24-30 weeks.

But in the above two cases, car companies and suppliers can regulate and control according to the rhythm of their products, and a sudden fire has dealt a heavy blow to the chip industry.

Last October, two fires broke out at the AKM wafer factory at Asahi Chemical Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (AKM) Yagaoka, one of the top suppliers of Chinese car companies. Due to severe damage, the plant was unable to resume production for at least half a year, and production was suspended for a year. In April this year, according to media reports, AKM had decided to abandon the fire plant to restore.


AKM fab fire caused some walls and roofs to collapse

Compared with other general-purpose IC, AKM is a niche chip, which is difficult to replace in the short term. And AKM's products are mainly concentrated in high-end applications such as cars, and even if they are replaced, it will take a long time. Therefore, after the fire, many car companies began to rush for goods, resulting in a shortage of AKM products.

The house leaked and it rained all night. In November, due to the spread of novel coronavirus in Europe, workers went on strike at three Italian semiconductor (ST) factories in France, involving 8-inch wafer factories, 12-inch wafer factories and gallium nitride technology plants.

STMicroelectronics is one of the giants of semiconductors in the world. According to Strategy Analytics statistics, the global installation of on-board MCU exceeds 2.5 billion, with an average of 25,30 MCU installed per vehicle. STSemiconductor occupies an 8% market share.

Then, the epidemic swept through Malaysia, directly strangling the closed testing link of the global chip.

From the perspective of the global semiconductor industry chain, Malaysia is not as important as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. But in recent years, it has become the center of chip testing and packaging, where more than 50 global semiconductor companies, including Infineon, NXP and STMicroelectronics, have set up factories to expand production.

Even in 2020, the worst epidemic in the world, semiconductor production in Malaysia still reached US $26.7 billion; its closed testing business has a global market share of nearly 13 per cent and half in Southeast Asia.

Infineon, the automotive semiconductor giant, for example, said at its earnings meeting in August that the shutdown could continue to drag on Q3's results. Reinhard Ploss, chief executive of Infineon, which has nearly 30 per cent of its chip closed test plant in Malaysia, told analysts that the total impact of the shutdown was "high in the double digits" of millions of euros.

But this is just a black swan incident that caused a shortage of chips, and it is rare in history that car factories are unable to buy chips. "Automotive chips account for a very small share of the entire chip market, about 50.6%. Car manufacturers can always buy chips. "In Zhao Zhanxiang's view, on the one hand, it is related to the inventory system of the automobile industry. Data centers, computers, mobile phones and other industries usually prepare goods in advance and have a certain inventory of chips. However, the automobile industry is generally not in stock, so once there is a lack of core, it will affect the overall automobile production capacity.

There are also some car companies will require chip suppliers to prepare a certain cycle of inventory when signing contracts. Toyota, for example, requires its suppliers to increase their chip inventory levels from the traditional three months to five months. Nissan is considering increasing its chip inventory from one month to three months. Suzuki asked component makers to keep supplies "for months".

In addition, the deeper reason goes deep into the long and fragile supply chain system between cars and semiconductors. "car manufacturers can't just rely on one or two suppliers, so that even if you can't buy a chip in one, there are other options. In the past, in many car factories, most of the chips came from one of the largest suppliers, which is a great risk. Zhao Zhanxiang added.

The highest bidder gets

The supply of chips falls short of demand, and skyrocketing prices have become the main theme of the industry.

A practitioner of the chip industry chain told lunch box finance that some chip manufacturers used the pretext of limited production to pull up the company's gross profit. "it turns out that the gross margin of the chip is not high. The car now costs a few dollars or more than a dozen dollars a piece. It is normal to use 1000 chips in a car, of which the most frequently used chips cost MCU chips between $1 and $10, and their own gross margins are low. "

More than 35 chip suppliers announced price increases in the two months from April 1 to June 1, according to relevant data.

Among them, one of the main sources of ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and MCU (Micro Control Unit) chips that are most scarce in automobiles is ST. A source revealed that in mid-May, ST sent a letter to channel dealers, saying that "prices of all product lines will be raised on June 1." As early as January, ST already raised its price once.

It is understood that the price of ST's model "STM32F103C8T6" chip remained around 6 yuan until September last year, rose to 30 yuan in December, and rose again to 65 yuan in April this year, with the price rising more than 10 times.

In December, due to the serious shortage of MCU, Taiwan's five major MCU factories-- Sheng Qun, Lingtong, Songhan, Xingkang, and Xintang-- raised prices at the same time. Domestically, a Wuhan Renajie semiconductor company, whose customers include Tesla, Inc., Geely, Great Wall and Guangzhou Automobile, raised the price of its products by 5% to 20% in May.

"sell it to whoever gives more money. The practitioner has no choice but to say that although a single chip is very cheap, a car cannot be built without it. "of course, it also has a psychological effect. The higher the price, the more panic, the more panic, the more hoarding goods, because the production cannot be produced, and it has not been released on the market, so it appears to be more and more out of stock. "

Price transmission to the upstream industrial chain, core shortage will also lead to an increase in the inventory cost of upstream parts.According to Barron Weekly, a person in charge of Great Wall Motor said that when the supply chain carried out capacity and raw material reserves according to the established plan, and after the production of some chip-related products was reduced, it was subject to site restrictions of the whole vehicle factory and could not be received in accordance with the order. will cause the overall supply chain to operate abnormally. When there is a large backlog of inventory in all links, the inventory of non-chip-related products in the current supply chain will increase by 2mi 3 times.

The chip delivery cycle has also been extended. The head of Weima Automobile said that at present, the purchase cycle of specification-level chips has been delayed from a few weeks to several months or even more than half a year, while some high-end chips such as smart driving and intelligent cockpits are even longer, or even delayed toMore than 20 months.

In addition, in the process of communicating with the practitioners of the car core industry chain, they also mentioned the "hidden rules" of some chip transactions: large suppliers are relatively kind.He raised the price openly with you, and sent you a letter of price increase, but some chip companies reduced the price, and he asked you to bid for it. This opaque mechanism makes enterprises often step in the pit.

In order to prevent some dealers from raising prices maliciously, causing market price confusion. The General Administration of Market Supervision launched a case investigation into automotive chip distribution companies suspected of inflating prices, and in September punished three dealers, namely, Shanghai Jite Electronics Co., Ltd., Shanghai Chengsheng Industrial Co., Ltd., and Shenzhen Yuchang Technology Co., Ltd.

Liu Deyin, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, said publicly that dealers' hoarding of chips has exacerbated the global chip supply shortage, and he is being forced to evaluate the data to determine which Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd customers are hoarding. A future easing of trade tensions between China and the US may also help ease the chip problem. "We need common rules to give people some expectations about how to do business. "

Is there a chance for domestic substitution?

"in the past, the motivation for car companies to cooperate with domestic suppliers was not strong-- the cooperation between other people and the original foreign suppliers was very stable, so why should they change it? what if something goes wrong? There's no need to get yourself into trouble. Zhao Zhanxiang, partner and chief technology officer of Yunxing Capital, told the box lunch finance and economics.

However, the global core shortage has intensified this year, giving some domestic chip suppliers an opportunity. "Foreign suppliers do not sell to you, car factories have no choice but to re-select suppliers, which is of great benefit to domestic small and medium-sized chip enterprises with advanced technology and a certain scale.Now the domestic chip is also very strong, because how many chips it can provide determines how many cars the car factory can sell. "

At present, domestic automotive chips are mainly imported. According to Wanlian Securities Research report, the import rate of domestic automotive chips is as high as 95%, of which key chips such as power system, chassis control and ADAS are monopolized by foreign giants.

According to the forward-looking Industrial Research Institute, NXP, Infineon, Renesas, Texas Instruments Inc and Italian Semiconductor remained among the top five automotive chip manufacturers in 2019, with a combined market share of 50 per cent.

However, this is also a two-sided, chip panic at the same time, the domestic also ushered in the opportunity of domestic substitution, including some car companies.

BYD established a wholly-owned subsidiary Shenzhen BYD Microelectronics as early as 2004; in 2005, it set up an IGBT R & D team to enter the IGBT industry. In 2008, 171 million yuan acquired Zhongwei Integrated Circuits (Ningbo) Co., Ltd., and changed its name to Ningbo BYD Semiconductor Co., Ltd.

In September 2009, BYD's first-generation IGBT chip was successfully developed. This year is about to release IGBT 6.0chip, its IGBT chip wafer production capacity has reached 50, 000 / month, this year is expected to produce 100000 / month.

In 2019, BYD's market share in the domestic automotive specification-level IGBT module was 18%, ranking second only to Infineon. At present, BYD Semiconductor is sprinting for listing on the gem.

Therefore, when most car companies reduce or stop production due to chip shortage, BYD is relatively calm, and its industrial chain in the chip field can not only be fully self-sufficient, but also have a surplus for external supply.

In addition to BYD, Geely, BAIC and SAIC have also joined hands with chip manufacturers to enter the chip market. Both ideal and NIO Inc. have set up autopilot teams and plan to develop their own chips.

"now car companies are also deliberately training domestic chip suppliers, because they find that when they really encounter a crisis, foreign chip companies give priority to local car companies. In addition, joint ventures will also sell cars in China and will give priority to domestic chip companies because they will be safer in the supply chain. Zhao Zhanxiang said.

Policy is also moving forward. In September last year, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other departments took the lead in the establishment of the "China Automotive Chip Industry Innovation Strategic Alliance", and the construction of automotive specification-level chip industry clusters has become an important national strategy.

At present, China still faces shortcomings in the three aspects of chip design, closed testing and wafer foundry. For example, in some subdivided areas of scene applications, such as V2X, RISC-V, etc., everyone's starting line is basically the same. However, domestic enterprises have a lot of bottlenecks in the manufacturing process, and there is a lack of manufacturing production lines for high-performance master control chips at the vehicle specification level in China. The data show that at present, the localization rate of domestic automobile specification-level MCU (micro-control unit) is less than 5%. These are all difficult problems that need to be overcome.

"Why didn't domestic car chips develop in the past? Because car manufacturers have never used domestic chips and have not been verified, they would rather not sell them than sell problematic cars to customers. Zhao Zhanxiang said to the box lunch finance and economics, butNow domestic chips have the opportunity to enter the supply chain of car companies, which means that they will have more room for growth in the future.

"some problems need to be tested in the car before they will be exposed, and then iteratively optimized into a stable and available product, coupled with the endorsement of the car company, there will naturally be more space available in the future. "

Yang Yong made the same judgment.

He believes that the domestic teams that make automotive chips also come from these big international manufacturers, and they are not so different in terms of ability and technology. The real difference is that, first, their products are more stable and reliable, and customers will trust them more; second, they have more products, which means they provide a complete solution, while the current domestic chip manufacturers are still small in scale. reliability takes time to improve; third, their experience is that they have been following the car for too many years, our automobile industry is still short, and there are few opportunities for domestic enterprises.

"if we can accumulate for five years, there will be no problem. "

Edit / isaac

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