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The Wait for Semiconductors Turns Ominous for Automakers

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(Bloomberg) -- The amount of time that automakers and other companies need to wait for chip orders to get filled rose yet again in September, signaling that semiconductor shortages will continue to hamper the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The gap between putting in a semiconductor order and taking delivery, known as the lead time in the industry, rose another five days in September to an average of 21.7 weeks, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. That wait has increased for nine months in a row and is by far the longest since the firm began tracking the data in 2017.

Susquehanna analyst Chris Rolland wrote that microcontroller lead times rose sharply again, an ominous sign for automakers that have been hard hit by the crunch. Key suppliers such as NXP Semiconductors NV, Texas Instruments Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, ON Semiconductor Corp., Microchip Technology Inc. all posted their highest lead times on record.

“Recent distributor checks suggest no stabilization in 2021, with perhaps China power outages creating new bottlenecks in the supply chain,” Rolland wrote.

Semiconductor shortages have hammered automakers just as the integration of new technology and the transition to electric vehicles become key competitive battlegrounds. AlixPartners, a global consulting firm, estimated last month that the global automotive industry will lose about $210 billion in sales for 2021 alone.

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