Income and sales in the auto industry recovered significantly in the first half of 2021 and are in some cases already above the values ​​from the years before the Corona crisis.

This is the result of a study by the auditing and consulting company EY.

The sales of automakers in Germany, the USA and South Korea exceeded the comparable value of 2019 in the first half of 2021.

Above all, German companies have increased their profitability, although it has previously been said that the business with low-income electric cars, chip and raw material shortages would reduce profits and sales of the carmaker.

The manufacturers know how to use the shortage situation to their advantage, comments EY partner Peter Fuß.

One concentrates on the models with higher profit margins, at the same time there is less reason for discount campaigns.

Britta Beeger

Editor in business.

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Susanne Preuss

Business correspondent in Stuttgart.

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Henning Peitsmeier

Business correspondent in Munich.

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Carsten Germis

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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Tobias Piller

Economic correspondent for Italy and Greece based in Rome.

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The good earnings situation is now causing discussions about the extent and financing of short-time working in the automotive industry, which has recently increased again. According to a survey by the Munich Ifo Institute, around 32,000 employees from the auto industry were on short-time work in July, twice as many as in the previous month. At the same time, however, only around 3 percent of employees in this industry were affected. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) has been recording more short-time working notifications for employees in the automotive industry for some time - in August they accounted for around a third of all registrations.

Due to the relaxed rules in the corona pandemic, access to short-time work is currently easier. In addition, the employment agencies currently assume the full social security contributions that are normally due on the short-time work allowance, so that the companies have almost no wage costs. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has announced that he wants to extend the rules until the end of the year. However, there is criticism of this. The easier access and the generous design of short-time work would have deadweight effects, said the former chairman of the Expert Council, Lars Feld, of the FAZ. "This is a solution at the expense of third parties, namely the taxpayers." there will be discussions about reform after the pandemic."The violation of fairness principles could be problematic, along the line of argument: Short-time work and high corporate profits are incompatible," she said. However, the short-time allowance is financed not least with insurance contributions from the automotive industry.

Drive "on sight" because of the lack of chips

The extent of short-time working varies greatly among the German car companies: At BMW, the three plants in Dingolfing, Leipzig and Munich are currently affected by production interruptions.

While production in Dingolfing is still in a one-shift operation, production in Leipzig will be completely idle this week.

Although the demand is "pleasingly high", production has had to be cut back again and again since April, said a spokesman.

Among other things, Mercedes-Benz reports on the temporary shutdown at the Bremen plant, which is used for maintenance and preparation for the start of production of new models. Production will also be cut back in Sindelfingen and Rastatt. At Volkswagen, production is run “on sight” due to the lack of chips. "We are currently assuming that the supply of chips will remain very volatile and tense in the third quarter of 2021," said a spokesman. Further short-time work can therefore not be ruled out. This is why, like last week, only the early shift is working at the main plant in Wolfsburg. In Zwickau, Saxony, where VW produces its ID.3 and ID.4 electric models, there was a closing day this week, while in Emden, production went without restrictions. Volkswagen expects improvement by the end of the year.