BERLIN – German automakers and suppliers say they are preparing for Russia to cut off gas supplies as a result conflict in Ukraine.
Gazprom, Russia’s largest state-owned energy company, fired a warning shot at countries supporting Ukraine last week, cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. The two countries have rejected Russia’s demand to pay for natural gas in rubles instead of dollars, a position supported by most European countries.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, especially dependent on Russian natural gas. Russia accounted for 55 percent of Germany’s gas imports in 2021 and 40 percent in the first quarter of 2022, according to Reuters.
The German government has launched an emergency energy plan that calls on industry and households to save energy and reduce its consumption. Standardization could be introduced in the future, and if so, the industry will be the first in line to cut off electricity, the German Ministry of Economy said.
Gas plays a crucial role in the automotive industry, from heating production halls to performing production processes, said a spokesman for the Mercedes-Benz Group Europe’s car news in an email statement.
“If gas supplies are cut off, it will affect much of the economy,” Mercedes said in a statement.
“We are constantly looking for ways to save energy and increase these efforts in the light of the current situation,” the statement said. “We are closely monitoring the situation and are in close contact with the German government.”
BMW has stated that electricity and gas prices are hedged in the long run through various mechanisms. “We continue to closely monitor the unstable situation and are exchanging with the authorities,” said the automaker.
Audi said its parent company of the Volkswagen Groupalso regularly contacts the authorities, network operators and suppliers to be able to assess further developments at an early stage and take all necessary measures.
“Currently, gas supplies to Volkswagen AG plants and brands in Germany are safe,” Audi said in a statement.
“Volkswagen gets natural gas from the German grid, which could cover Germany’s current demand.
“Accordingly, the supply of natural gas to plants, as well as power plants and boilers are guaranteed until further notice. Suppliers decide for themselves from which sources they receive natural gas,” said Audi.
Robert Bosch said that gas provides 20 percent of its energy needs, so the mega-supplier does not require very large quantities.
However, some of its suppliers do so – especially those involved in semiconductor manufacturing.
“Currently, we can supply our production and operating sites,” the spokesman said.
“This is due to our forward-looking procurement strategy and the high level of energy efficiency that the Bosch Group has already achieved, becoming climate-neutral worldwide in 2020.”
The supplier is monitoring the market for energy resources such as gas and electricity, and is studying what precautions it needs to take in Europe next winter.
Bosch said it is “preparing for different scenarios and taking precautions to ensure that we can continue to supply our customers in the event of gas supply regulation, or minimize any potential impact.
“This can be done, for example, by using alternative energy sources, such as using oil instead of gas for heating, and in some cases for thermal processes.”
ZF Friedrichshafen declined to comment on “speculative political issues”, but said he was always trying to anticipate possible developments to prepare for them.
A Continental spokesman said the supplier was “constantly evaluating all the options available to us.”
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.