Attacks in the Red Sea | Production of Tesla and Volvo disrupted in Europe

(Paris) At Tesla as at Volvo, automobile production is disrupted by attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea, which slow down the delivery of Asian spare parts to European factories.

Tesla was the first manufacturer to announce on the night of Thursday to Friday that its production would be suspended for two weeks in its European factory, between January 29 and February 11.

Located near Berlin, the Grünheide factory produces the Model Y, the SUV king of electric sales on the continent.

The Volvo factory in Ghent (Belgium) will also be closed for three days during the week of January 15 for lack of gearboxes, the delivery of which was delayed due to “readjustments in the sea lanes”, indicated the Chinese-Swedish manufacturer Friday to AFP. The factory notably produces the XC40 SUV as well as the electric C40.

Attacks on transport ships have increased in recent weeks between Africa and Yemen, near the strait which provides access to the Red Sea from Asia.

Since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the increase in attacks has pushed certain shipowners to bypass the area.

Houthi rebels, who say they are in solidarity with Hamas, have warned that they will target ships sailing off the coast of Yemen with links to Israel.

To avoid the risk of attack, container ships must take an alternative route around the South African Cape of Good Hope, which is much longer and more expensive. The journey between Asia and Europe is extended by 10 to 20 days.

“The considerable lengthening of transport times creates a gap in supply chains,” Tesla wrote in a press release sent to AFP during the night from Thursday to Friday.

“Armed conflicts in the Red Sea and the shift in transport routes between Europe and Asia via the Cape of Good Hope also have repercussions on production in Grünheide,” explains the American manufacturer.

Production will resume in full from February 12, assures Tesla.

By plane

The Stellantis group (Peugeot, Fiat, Opel), the second largest European producer, noted “almost no impact on its production”. But it indicated that it had taken exceptional measures to avoid production stoppages, by sending certain strategic parts by plane from Asia.

Not all manufacturers are affected at the moment: Toyota France indicated that the situation remained “fluid” in its factory in Valenciennes (Northern France) as did Hyundai in its Czech factory in Nosovice.

But the Renault plant in Cléon, in northwest France, suspended engine assembly for two half-days this week.

This pause was first attributed in an internal message to the attacks in the Red Sea, but Renault assured Friday that it was in fact due to a more traditional supply problem with a supplier.

All manufacturers combined, many parts necessary for car assembly are imported from Asia and in particular from China, the world’s largest automobile market and leading producer in the sector.

The automotive sector’s supply chain had already been deeply shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a shortage of electronic chips, which caused entire weeks of shutdown between 2020 and 2022.


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