How a cheap component could help kill off combustion cars – Reuters

May 30, 2022 by No Comments

LONDON/BERLIN, May 30 (Reuters) – The humble wire harness, a cheap component that bundles cables together, has become an unlikely scourge of the auto industry. Some predict it could hasten the downfall of combustion cars.

Supplies of the auto part were choked by the war in Ukraine, which is home to a significant chunk of the world’s production, with wire harnesses made there fitted in hundreds of thousands of new vehicles every year.

These low-tech and low-margin parts – made from wire, plastic and rubber with lots of low-cost manual labour – may not command the kudos of microchips and motors, yet cars can’t be built without them.

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The supply crunch could accelerate the plans of some legacy auto firms to switch to a new generation of lighter, machine-made harnesses designed for electric vehicles, according to interviews with more than a dozen industry players and experts.

“This is just one more rationale for the industry to make the transition to electric quicker,” said Sam Fiorani, head of production forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions.

Gasoline cars still account for the bulk of new car sales globally; EVs doubled to 4 million last year, but still only comprised 6% of vehicle sales, according to data from JATO Dynamics.

Nissan (7201.T) CEO Makoto Uchida told Reuters that supply-chain disruptions such as the Ukraine crisis had prompted his company to talk to suppliers about shifting away from the cheap-labour wire harness model.

In the immediate term, though, automakers and suppliers have shifted harness production to other lower-cost countries.

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