Continental’s answer to microchip crunch is flexible design
BERLIN — Continental has decided not to manufacture its own semiconductors, despite the global shortage of microchips.
“We looked into the matter, but decided not to do so,” said Continental technical director Gilles Mabire, quoted by Automotive News Europe sister post Automobilwoche.
Mabire told the publication that he expects the semiconductor situation to improve in the coming year.
Instead of manufacturing its own chips, the company plans to work more closely with its suppliers and customers and modify the chip design so that it can be changed more quickly if needed.
Chips are rare everywhere and semiconductor technology varies widely from component to component, Mabire said. Automobilwoche.
“You can’t solve this problem with in-house manufacturing in one area,” he said. “You need specialists for that, and the automotive industry alone is just too small for that.”
He also said reducing the number of semiconductors installed in vehicles would not solve supply bottlenecks.
“If we look to the future, the shift to mainframes could indeed reduce the number of processors and chipsets,” Mabire said. “But at the same time, the complexity and the performance levels increase dramatically, so I have a hard time imagining that we’ll get away with less semiconductors.”
The most important lesson from the flea crisis is that “we need to plan much more for the long term,” Mabire said. “We need to work more closely with suppliers and with our customers here.”
Going forward, he said, Continental wants to consider the issue of semiconductor supply “from the strategic planning stage, so that we can signal early enough if there might be a bottleneck. strangulation”.
Additionally, he said, the company wants to change its chip design “to become more flexible and to be able to quickly switch to another vendor.”
Mabire said while he expects the situation to “remain tense” in 2022, he predicted the flea crisis would start to ease from 2023.
Continental rival Bosch went in a different direction, opening a billion euro ($1.2 billion) chip factory in Germany in June, in a record investment by the supplier as it prepares for the latest electric and self-driving cars.
Continental ranks No. 6 on the Automotive News Europe list of the world’s top 100 suppliers, with sales to automakers of $29.7 billion in 2020.