Motorcycle manufacturers brace for magnesium shortage

An energy crisis in China is the catalyst that is ushering in a magnesium shortage we could all really do without

Marchesini wheels

IT is fair to say that the last two to three years have been pretty shit for the automotive industry – and two-wheeled manufacturers were not immune.

From COVID-19 to the Suez Canal crisis, to chip shortages and back to COVID-19 again. To say that this has been a period we could all do with forgetting is very much an understatement. To be completely honest though, the motorcycle industry has faired pretty well. With people switching from public transport and getting on two-wheels, sales have been good, with the electric and scooter market showing massive growth over that time.

But there is another bullet to dodge, and again, it’s emanating from China although this time it is a shortage of magnesium.

‘Well I won’t buy those trick Marchesini wheels then’ I hear you cry… It’s not quite as simple as that though. Magnesium is one of the key ingredients in the kind of lightweight yet incredibly strong alloys the motorcycle industry is so hungry for.

With an estimated 90% of the world’s magnesium being produced in the country, any fluctuations in the nation’s output of the metal hits global industry hard with Europe especially at risk with 95% of our magnesium coming from the People’s Republic. And it hasn’t been plain sailing in China either.

A power crisis has hit the nation’s industry hard, and magnesium production, which is a power-hungry industry, is one of the worse affected. September and October saw production fall dramatically, something that is expected to trickle down to the motorcycle industry in the coming weeks and months.

The situation was enough for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association to issue a warning to its members. It reads:

‘Europe is expected to run out of magnesium stocks by the end of November, with production shortages, business closures and associated job losses to follow.’

‘To that effect, our industries jointly call on the European Commission and national governments to urgently work towards immediate actions with their Chinese counterparties to mitigate the short-term, critical shortage issue as well as the longer-term supply effects on European industries.’

With the recent semi-conductor shortage hitting the entire automotive industry hard and another potential problem about to land, you do really have to ask when we’ll cut a break from all this!

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