Turkey’s automotive industry has pushed ahead with its foreign sales, but the global shortage of semiconductors that has been plaguing the automobile industry still hinders its progress.
Automotive exports surged 17% year-on-year in June to $2.35 billion (TL 20.37 billion), according to the data from Uludağ Automotive Industry Exporters (OIB), as the industry inches closer to the average monthly sales of $2.5 billion it saw before the outbreak.
But the semiconductor shortage is affecting the industry’s output, said OIB head Baran Çelik.
“Although exports continue to increase in double digits due to the base effect, the fact that some companies in the main industry had to suspend their production due to the semiconductor chip problem continues to negatively affect automotive exports,” Çelik noted.
Automotive sales soared 33% year-on-year to a total of $14.4 billion from January through June, the OIB data showed. The average monthly sales in the first half came in at $2.4 billion.
Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns caused a shift in consumer spending toward electronics and a spike in demand for the semiconductor chips that run them.
Modern automobiles can use dozens of chips in their various electronics systems, and carmakers have had to slow production or leave factories idle when they run out of supplies.
Many of the automakers were planning to rev up production this year to meet an expected surge in demand as the pandemic wanes and to recover from last year’s losses. But without enough chips, those hopes are fading.
Automakers have reduced the stocks of parts they keep on hand in recent years as part of cost-cutting measures, so delivery delays can quickly force an entire shutdown.
Çelik said the automotive supply industry and motor vehicles for transporting goods posted a double-digit rise in exports in June, also noting a double-digit fall in automobile and bus-minibus-midibus sales.
He particularly stressed the high increase in exports to the United Kingdom and Italy in June.
The automotive industry’s sales last month were driven by a surge in the top market Germany of 15% to $335 million, adding to that a 125% rise in exports to the U.K. to $275 million.
France received $262 million worth of Turkish automotive products last month, a 4% increase.
Exports to Italy, Poland, the U.S., Russia, Hungary and Morocco were up 82.5%, 33%, 27%, 43%, 93% and 41%, respectively.
EU countries accounted for 62.4% of the overall sales in the month, totaling nearly $1.47 billion, a 10% year-on-year rise.
Many Turkish factories temporarily halted operations last year, soon after the first COVID-19 infection was recorded.
Turkey has been gradually easing coronavirus restrictions since mid-May after the end of a so-called “full lockdown” from which millions of workers and tourists were exempt.
A partial lockdown in mid-April was extended to a nearly three-week stay-at-home order after daily cases hit a record high of more than 63,000.
In the most extensive relaxation since the beginning of the pandemic, the nation has eased nearly all restrictions on businesses and events starting last week, and lifted nighttime and Sunday curfews as new infections remain steadily below record high levels registered in April.
The rise through June could be attributed to the fact that Turkey’s virus-related lockdowns adopted this year did not affect production.
The automotive supply industry’s foreign sales soared nearly 50% from a year ago to around $1.1 billion in June, the OIB data showed.
Exports to its top market, Germany, were up 83% year-on-year, in addition to increases of 115%, 28%, 73% and 77% in sales to Italy, France, the U.S. and Russia, respectively.
Automobile exports were down 22% year-on-year to $609 million, driven by a fall in sales to France, Germany, Slovenia, Israel and Belgium of 32%, 48%, 40%, 64% and 72%, respectively.
Sales of motor vehicles for transporting goods surged 74% to $454 million, lifted by a 319% increase in exports to the U.K., as well as 129% and 202% increases in shipments to France and Italy.
Bus-minibus-midibus sales dropped 24.5% to $87 million, driven by a noteworthy fall of 70% in exports to Germany, and a 97% drop in Morocco. Yet, sales to Hungary and France posted a 712% and 80% increase, respectively.
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