When automakers launch vehicles in Southeast Asia (i.e. Thailand, Indonesia, or Malaysia), it usually means that the vehicle is set to arrive in other markets like the Philippines in just a few months.
So when the refreshed Mercedes-Benz E-Class finally arrived in ASEAN during the Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) last year, we were expecting it to be available as early as mid-2021. However, we were surprised that it actually took Mercedes-Benz distributor Auto Nation Group nearly a year before they were able to bring in the updated luxury sedan.
What caused the long delay between the E-Class launch in Thailand and its eventual arrival in the Philippines? And could this type of delay continue to happen in the not-so-distant future?
According to Benjamin Bautista, Auto Nation Group Senior Product Manager, the delay was caused by a problem automakers are all too familiar with, parts and semiconductor shortage. That’s right, even the three-pointed star is not immune to the global chip and parts shortage that continues to plague car brands around the world.
Just last year, Mercedes-Benz, along with other automakers such as Toyota, Ford, Mini, Nissan, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi had to temporarily stop production several times due to the lack of semiconductors. This was caused when automakers had to cut back orders of semiconductors as car production temporarily stopped in early 2020.
As a result, semiconductor manufacturers then shifted to supply consumer electronics following the high demand for smartphones, gaming devices, and laptops. As vehicle sales bounced back in 2021, automakers found themselves waiting in line for chips and semiconductors. To this day, some automakers continue to experience chip shortages.
“It is very unfortunate for Mercedes-Benz to be affected by the parts bottleneck that is still happening to this day,” said Bautista.
Does this mean future product launches by Mercedes-Benz Philippines will be affected by the ongoing shortage? Fortunately, Bautista believes that the situation will normalize as both the production of cars and semiconductors will eventually smoothen out.
“We are very positive that parts allocation will normalize,” added Bautista.
Even with the aim of selling 50 to 60 units of the 2022 E-Class per month, Mercedes-Benz Philippines guarantees that they have enough stocks to supply the expected demand.
But the next time you're wondering why a new model launch is delayed, you can blame the ongoing parts and chip shortage.