The explosive spread of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 is placing growing strain on staffing levels across the U.S. and global economies, threatening to slow the production of new trucks despite pressing demand from fleets to buy more vehicles, a new study says.
That increased covid risk is likely to hamper automotive manufacturing activity in the first quarter of 2022, according to the “North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK” report from transportation analysis firm ACT Research.
That pressure comes at a time when freight markets are already dealing with constrained capacity, and the new challenge could exacerbate both shippers’ and carriers’ ability to move sufficient quantities of goods, Columbus, Indiana-based ACT said.
“Minimally, the world should be planning for a January of meaningful labor disruption, and by extension, increased manufacturing challenges, locally and globally,” Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, said in a release. “Low-cost manufacturing countries with low vaccination rates have had trouble in previous Covid waves. The Delta variant knocked Indian steel production off-line and disrupted automotive sub-assemblers in Southeast Asia. To combat Omicron, the Chinese government has instigated shelter-in-place quarantines, continuing their strict lockdown policy. As China remains the world’s workshop, Chinese parts suppliers and ports going off-line is a real short-term risk.”
Those implications could further weaken a North American commercial vehicle industry that faced lengthy backups during 2021 in obtaining crucial automotive parts such as semiconductors, forcing carmakers to postpone production of some models, the report said.
“It appears that the industry will begin 2022 with still unfinished 2021 units,” Vieth said. “At the levels we suspect, this is an unprecedented situation. If your company has parts on all those ‘built, but not built’ units, some adjustment will be required to align your 2021-2022 output with reported and forecast data.”
ACT Research: CV Industry Facing Omicron Variant, Starting 2022 with Unfinished 2021 Unitshttps://t.co/LuGYuv5B8Q— ACT Research (@actresearch) January 11, 2022