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Updated January 13th, 2024 at 11:14 IST

Tesla, Volvo car halt production amid escalating Red Sea shipping crisis

Shipping giants such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have rerouted their vessels, adding extra costs and time to journeys around Africa.

Business Desk
Tesla
Tesla | Image:Tesla
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Tesla and Volvo Car, both major automakers, have announced a temporary halt in their European production due to a shortage of components, indicating the impact of recent attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

The attacks, primarily targeting the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, have disrupted vital shipping routes. The United States and Britain conducted strikes on Thursday in response to these disruptions.

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The Red Sea shipping crisis has led to concerns about extended delays in the Suez Canal, a crucial route between Asia and Europe. This has triggered a major increase in container shipping rates, affecting various industries, including the production of cars and electronic devices. The canal typically handles around 12 per cent of global container traffic.

Tesla disclosed that it will suspend most car production at its Berlin factory from January 29 to February 11, citing a lack of components due to the rerouting of ships around the southern tip of Africa. Volvo Car, majority-owned by China's Geely, also announced a three-day pause in production at its plant in Ghent, Belgium, attributing the delay to a shortage of gearboxes.

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The armed conflicts in the Red Sea have resulted in shifts in transport routes, particularly around the Cape of Good Hope, leading to considerably longer transportation times and disruptions in supply chains.

Shipping giants such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have rerouted their vessels, adding extra costs and time to journeys around Africa. 

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Companies like Geely, IKEA, Next, Target, and Tractor Supply have warned of potential delays in deliveries, with some already experiencing disruptions.

The impact extends beyond the automotive sector, affecting various industries that rely on efficient maritime trade routes. Retailers are facing delays in receiving goods, and with the Panama Canal experiencing reduced crossings due to drought, the overall global supply chain faces major challenges.

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While some automakers like Stellantis, BMW, Volkswagen, and Renault report minimal impact on production, concerns linger about potential shortages in the supply chain, especially for electric vehicle (EV) components. 

The Red Sea conflict adds to existing challenges for EV manufacturers in Europe, where the region heavily depends on Asia for EV supplies.

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The disruptions in shipping, if prolonged, pose a threat to the global economic recovery, leading to increased freight and oil prices, potentially reigniting inflation. 

As companies scramble to find alternative routes and secure their supply chains, the situation remains fluid, and the full extent of the fallout is yet to be determined.

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(With Reuters Inputs)

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Published January 13th, 2024 at 11:14 IST

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