Bosch CEO warns coronavirus could hit global auto supply chains

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STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) – The chief executive of Robert Bosch, the world’s biggest auto components supplier, warned that coronavirus could impact its global supply chain, which is heavily dependent on China.

“We are naturally concerned, but on the basis of the facts today, we have no disruption to our business or supply chain,” Chief Executive Volkmar Denner said at a meeting with journalists in Fellbach, Stuttgart on Tuesday, in remarks which were embargoed for Wednesday.

Bosch is relying on China as a global manufacturing base for exporting electric motors, transmission and power electronics for electric cars.

“We need to wait to see how things develop. If this situation continues, supply chains will be disrupted. There are forecasts that predict the peak for infections will drag on until February or March,” Denner said.

“In Wuhan Bosch has two plants making steering systems and thermotechnologies, with around 800 employees. There have been no reports of infections,” Denner said.

Bosch’s China plants have been shut for Chinese new year and the holiday has been extended to February 3, an extension which will not disrupt Bosch’s global business, Denner explained.

Bosch has been in China since 1909 and has 23 automotive manufacturing facilities in more than 60 locations in the world’s largest auto market, which is home to the largest Bosch workforce outside of Germany.  

Bosch employs 403,000 people globally.

Bosch makes multimedia infotainment systems in Wuhu, brake booster systems in Nanjing, automotive electronics for use in connected and automated driving in Wujin, 48-volt battery systems in Wuxi and builds electric vehicle motors, transmissions, and power electronics in Taicang.

Bosch sales in Asia Pacific reached 22.5 billion euros last year, of which more than 10 billion euros came from China.

Bosch expects global automotive production to fall 2.6% to 89 million cars in 2020 due to a decline in demand in China, the United States and Europe.

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