China EV maker Nio halts production for 5 days on chip shortage

Nio Inc. will temporarily halt production at one of its factories in Anhui province because of the semiconductor shortage, becoming the first high-profile Chinese carmaker to succumb to a chip snarl that’s silenced the factory lines of auto manufacturers globally.

Nio’s JAC-NIO plant in the central provincial capital of Hefei will cease operations for five working days starting from March 29, the company said in a statement Friday.

“The overall supply constraint of semiconductors has impacted the company’s production volume in March,” Shanghai-based Nio said. “The company expects to deliver approximately 19,500 vehicles in the first quarter, adjusted from the previously released outlook of 20,000 to 20,500 vehicles.”

Automakers the world over have expanded and extended production cuts that first began in late December to cope with a worsening global shortage of semiconductors. The coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in chip orders that are needed for smartphones, TVs and computers as people try to make extended life at home more bearable, leaving less capacity for a stronger-than-expected rebound in vehicle demand.

Weather, Fire
Recent weather-related disruptions of petrochemical supplies in the southern U.S. and a fire at a chipmaking plant in Japan have exacerbated the shutdowns.

Nio posted a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter, a year after a government cash injection saved the company from bankruptcy. The U.S.-listed company’s shares climbed more than 1,100 percent in 2020, pulled higher by excitement around the prospects for growth in China’s EV market, which is the world’s biggest.

The investor enthusiasm for electric cars comes as Nio, along with Chinese rivals Xpeng Inc. and Li Auto Inc. consider second listings in Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the matter.

Nio’s shares fell 8 percent to $34.92 in premarket trading Friday in New York.

As of January, Nio had delivered 82,866 electric cars in China since its first model came to market in June 2018. Its high-end sport utility vehicles have proven a hit with wealthy consumers, helping to push Nio’s gross margin to 17.2 percent in the December quarter.

CEO William Li said earlier this month when releasing results that production capacity may be constrained by the global chip shortage.

While monthly capacity has risen to 10,000 units, production will remain at 7,500 “due to supply-chain limits, including the chip shortage,” he said on March 2. “Though we believe we are able to meet expected demand for the second quarter, there’s indeed a higher risk.”

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