Europe’s automakers scramble to replace Ukrainian auto parts – Automotive News Europe

March 14, 2022 by No Comments

Western Ukraine, with its low-cost, highly skilled workforce and proximity to Europe’s car factories and a wealth of raw materials, has grown into a major production hub for wire harnesses, with Japan’s Fujikura and France’s Nexans among those producing there.

Some manufacturers, such as Fujikura, have suspended Ukrainian production altogether since the invasion, while others are operating at reduced capacity. Neither Fujikura nor Nexans replied to requests for comment on their plans.

Moving production to plants in other low-cost markets with a vibrant wire harness industry, like Romania, Serbia or Tunisia, involves buying new equipment to boost capacity, which could take months to install.

According to industry sources, suppliers and automakers are discussing who will pay the bill. Automakers interviewed for this story would not name their suppliers.

Some wire harness manufacturers in Ukraine, such as Kromberg & Schubert, Japan’s Yazaki and Leoni, already have alternative plants in other countries.

Germany’s Leoni declined to comment on its plans, and K&S and Yazaki did not respond to requests for comment.

There is still a trickle of supply out of Ukraine. One wire harness manufacturer in the country’s west, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for the safety of workers, said some production continues during the day, though it is shuttered at night due to curfews.

Some trucking companies are hauling wire harnesses south across the border into Romania because for now the fighting has not reached that region, OEC Group’s Klein said. That could soon change.

“The number of truckers who are willing to drive those routes as this continues will be less and less,” Klein said. “There is going to be a point where you cannot get anything out of there safely.”

Facing a “messed-up” global supply chain, European automakers need as many sources of parts as possible, Klein said.

“Right now, you cannot have enough suppliers and you cannot have enough shipping partners, because of the climate we are in.”



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