Things are not looking rosy: energy prices, inflation – everyone is counting on one recession. Hardly anyone is as dependent on the economy as truck manufacturers. Do you already notice the downturn?
Not at all. The most important for us are Western Europe and North America. We are still almost sold out in both markets. We don’t see any cancellations.
How can that be?
I’ve always been passionate about my economics classes: The signs of a recession are unemployment and supply outstripping demand. I don’t watch either. We are desperately looking for people and I can tell you a few products that we can’t get – also privately, by the way: I wanted to buy a dishwasher and this year none can be delivered. These are not necessarily signs of a recession.
So why is everyone warning of a recession?
I don’t write the articles.
The economic research institutes don’t think that up.
I am not in the council of wise men, nor am I an explorer. It is popular at the moment to say: the sky is falling and the end of the world has come. I don’t see that, even if the system is fragile. One day we may have a recession and then everyone will say: I told you so. But there are also positive signs to the contrary: for example, the ongoing infrastructure package in the USA is driving demand. In the last two years, the industry has sold significantly less than it could have. We are pushing a mountain of demand ahead of us. The hauliers want to keep renewing their vehicles.
Nothing has changed in your situation?
We produced 455,000 vehicles last year and could easily have sold up to 70,000 more if we had the parts. For this year, our forecast is 500,000 to 520,000 vehicles. Also this year we could sell more if we had more parts.
Is the order backlog getting smaller?
No, we have a record order backlog. We opened the order books in the US last week and have one record day after the other.
How long do your orders last?
We used to be happy if we had orders on hand for 30 days, even 15 days were enough. Now we’re almost sold out in the US until March, in Europe until the middle of next year.
Did he chip shortage not relaxed?
There is not one chip shortage. There are umpteen chips in the vehicle. All but one of the ones that gave us a hard stomach at the beginning of the year have been resolved because we have found alternatives and bought new capacities. I don’t want to say which chip and which supplier that is.
Is that one chip the only problem?
The manufacturer lags behind our growth. Next year we will switch from Euro V to Euro VI in Brazil. We need more chips for that. We also have other topics: We install cameras for certain trucks instead of the exterior mirrors. The manufacturer has now informed us completely out of the blue that it will not be able to deliver for weeks. We had to produce vehicles with conventional exterior mirrors again.
Are other parts also scarce?
Yes, tires or steel parts in the USA for example. The suppliers can’t increase capacities because they can’t get the workers. That doesn’t sound like a recession either.