Japan calls for support for the stricken Renesas Corporation as the chip crisis worsens globally


Japan has called on equipment makers to help one of its biggest chip makers restore production, the latest government move aimed at easing a semiconductor shortage that has hurt production at auto companies and is now putting pressure on electronic device makers, Reuters reported.

A chip factory owned by Renesas Electronics Corp. was hit by a fire last week, and it may take several months to replace the defective devices. The company represents 30% of the global market for microcontrollers used in cars.

In underscoring the severity of the crisis, Hyundai Motor Co., which until recently was one of the carmakers least affected by cautious storage, is facing production curbs from April, the Financial Times reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

A Hyundai representative said that the company is closely monitoring the situation and will work to improve production in line with supply conditions, while a union official said the car manufacturer has enough chips for its popular models but will make fewer models like the Sonata sedan that also doesn’t sell.

Reuters quoted a Commerce Ministry official as saying that Japanese bureaucrats had contacted companies at home and abroad to request the provision of spare parts and machinery for Renesas.

In another indication that chip problems are spreading outside the auto industry, Intel Corp has projected a lower-than-expected annual profit, reflecting what it said was an industry-wide shortfall.

And earlier this month, Reuters quoted sources as saying that Qualcomm was struggling to keep up with demand for processor chips used in smartphones, including those produced by Samsung Electronics.

In addition to Japan, Germany and the United States have also ramped up efforts to solve the shortage caused by increased consumer electronics demand due to the epidemic and exacerbated by panic buying to support chip stocks.

The White House has held meetings with auto manufacturers and suppliers to identify bottlenecks and is in contact with international allies. Berlin asked Taiwan in January to persuade chip smelters to increase supply to German carmakers.

Governments and companies are also preparing themselves for long-term survival in the highly competitive semiconductor industry that has often been a flashpoint for trade tensions.


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