Renesas Factory Shutdown Creates Additional Uncertainty for Automakers
On Feb. 13, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the coast of Japan injuring 48 people in the Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. This resulted in Renesas’ Naka factory being hit with a temporary blackout. In response the company temporarily suspended its production line to inspect the safety of its factory, and any equipment damages. Operations resumed on February 15.
Renesas is a key automotive semiconductor supplier and one of the biggest chip manufacturers, holding 30% of the IC market share. The Naka factory, which contains the company’s only 300-mm wafer fabrication line, is expected to take one week to reach full capacity.
This comes amidst global semiconductor shortages causing production constraints in numerous industries, especially the recovering automotive industry. As automakers like Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota are forced to cut production, semiconductor leaders have started to shift manufacturing to focus on automotive components.
Renesas has recently joined this trend after deciding to lend some its capacity to AKM for the production of automotive chips. Before the earthquake, Renesas had already announced supply constraints to last throughout the first half of 2021, and it is unknown how this shutdown will affect the ongoing wafer shortage.
Saturday’s earthquake took place in the same area that experienced a magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011, causing three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant to melt down as the country’s worst nuclear disaster.
As a result, Renesas spent approximately USD $1.9 million over four years to reinforce its factories with shock absorbing dampers and increase its inventory of fragile glass components. Because of these measures, only one of Renesas’s three Japanese factories was affected by the recent natural disaster.