Dire alarm

Raw materials. Whether copper, cocoa or rubber – prices are exploding. Some basic materials are very hard to be had even. The difficult supply situation is a threat to the existence of more and more companies. And it's also threatening the economic upswing.


[Many companies] now feel forced to raise sales prices.
Most businesses in the automotive sector cannot afford it. For them, raw material supply is at least as precarious as in other sectors of the industry. The aluminum needed for engine manufacture increased by at least 80 percent since 2009; the price of copper almost quintupled.

Emergency plan for raw material victims

“Yet, haggling is nowhere more brutal than with car manufacturers. Everybody tries to pass off the raw material problem to the next one in the supply chain – and the last link in the chain is frequently the one losing out. And then the auto industry is startled when one of its suppliers is suddenly facing bankruptcy", says Christian Michalak, car expert at Kerkhoff Consulting.

Major buyers have become aware of this danger. To prevent the supply of primary products from stalling, the third-largest German component manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen set up a crisis team. It currently keeps 37 suppliers under close watch. In case of need, an emergency plan with an injection of fresh funds is to protect small companies from insolvency.