Renesas warns of impact on global chip supply after factory fire

Renesas Electronics, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chips for the automotive industry, has warned that a fire at one of its factories could have “a massive impact” on global semiconductor supplies and disrupt production. production for at least a month.

The timing of Friday’s fire at the advanced chip facility in Japan couldn’t be worse for automakers, who were already struggling with generalized disturbance supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the cold snap in the United States which led to mass blackouts in Texas.

“We are concerned that there is a massive impact on chip supplies,” Renesas chief executive Hidetoshi Shibata said at an online press conference on Sunday. “We will do everything possible to minimize the impact.”

The fire broke out in one of the clean rooms at the company’s Naka plant, north of Tokyo, halting production of 300mm wafers and burning about 2% of the company’s equipment. factory manufacturing.

About two-thirds of the affected production were automotive chips, according to Shibata. If the facility remains offline for a month, he added, Renesas will lose about 17 billion yen ($ 156 million) in revenue. The financial blow should not have an impact on the group plan buy Dialogue with Apple suppliers for 4.9 billion euros.

Renesas and its automotive customers, including Toyota and Nissan, have took action to diversify their supply chains after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, when auto factories around the world shut down after production of Renesas microcontrollers was hit.

Thanks in part to these efforts, about two-thirds of the fleas affected by the latest fire may be produced elsewhere. But Shibata acknowledged that it would be difficult to find alternative facilities to manufacture its chips, as the industry is already grappling with a lack of spare production capacity at foundries such as Taiwan’s TSMC, the largest maker of chips under contract to the world.

Renesas had ramped up production to address the semiconductor shortage, moving some of the chips subcontracted to TSMC to the fire-damaged manufacturing line. Taiwanese society scrambled to meet a surge in demand after a rebound in car sales coincided with a booming consumer electronics market.

The chip shortage has already slowed automotive production around the world and threatens to delay production of other forms of electronics, including smartphones.

The dryness of semiconductor parts was compounded by extreme weather conditions in the United States, which caused a shortage of petrochemicals used in seats, airbags and dashboards.

Toyota, one of Renesas’ biggest customers, said on Friday it would shut its plant in the Czech Republic for two weeks due to the disruption of its North American supply chain caused by the cold snap. spread in Europe.

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