YOKOHAMA, Japan: The Covid Omicron variant of COVID-19 could add pressure to a chronic shortage of microchips used in car manufacturing, warned Makoto Uchida, head of Nissan Motors.
The shortage could also hinder production of other electronic products, such as washing machines and smartphones which rely on semiconductor chips.
It remains too early to know when normal deliveries of chips will resume, he added, telling the BBC, "I cannot give you a date. This new variant could add pressure to that, so how well we react is going to be crucial."
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused many factories to close, leading to a backlog in semiconductor chip production, which was then exacerbated by soaring demand, with people working from home requiring laptops and tablets.
"We have a semiconductor shortage as an industry, and how we recover from that is critical," Uchida added.
Besides Uchida's comments, Nissan has announced that its vehicle electrification strategy includes the proposed introduction of 23 electrified models by 2030, along with a goal of having electric vehicles account for 75 percent of its European sales by 2026.
Earlier this year, Nissan announced an investment of £1 billion in its Sunderland plant in the UK, to develop it as a hub for electric vehicle production.
However, its goals for China and the U.S. are far less ambitious, planning on 40 percent of its sales in China to be electric or hybrid by 2026, while it only expects to hit that same percentages in the U.S. by 2030.
However, at the recent COP26 climate summit in Scotland, Nissan, along with Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW, refused to join Ford and Volvo in pledging to phase out petroleum-fueled vehicles by 2040.
Nissan is also investing more in developing solid state batteries, which are expected to more efficient than lithium-ion batteries, the current industry standard.