JA: 2021 was another memorable year for everyone and for all sorts of reasons. We had a bumpy recovery from the worst of the Covid pandemic, but the automotive industry was also hammered by a shortage of semiconductor parts. In your business, what stand out as the biggest challenges you faced this year?

AR: One of the biggest challenges was demand variability throughout the year with multiple OEM production slowdowns and ramp ups. We worked closely with our customers and exercised the flexibility we could to ensure we were in a position to meet their needs. Raw material availability issues and logistical constraints, with an unprecedented number of force majeure announcements from suppliers, exacerbated the situation. We are very grateful to the many people from across the value chain who did their part to help the industry navigate through these disruptions.

JA: Any high spots or particular successes you’d like to share?

AR: In a time of uncertainty with the challenges already mentioned, it is important that the industry be able to work together. We largely did that, thanks mostly to clear and transparent communication with our customers and suppliers. We appreciate everyone’s professionalism, resilience and commitment.

A second high spot is the momentum we have built in some new areas of opportunity for us and our customers. As one example, our team has made big inroads with our customers and their suppliers on advancing plastic solutions for EV battery packs. We are very excited about the value that we can deliver to the industry in this important area. Materials from our portfolio, including flame retardant plastics such as STAMAX long glass fiber polypropylene resin and SABIC PPcompound, can potentially be game changers and enablers in the development of next generation EV battery packs, supporting extended range and improved overall performance.

JA: How are you feeling about 2022 – both in terms of business prospects and more generally?

AR: We are optimistically inclined, so we certainly look forward to greater stability and yet another full year of opportunities to support our customers. With that said, and based on the outlook at this moment, the industry can expect to experience further variability in OEM production, and this will impact the entire value chain. We also need to continue adapting in how we come together, virtually and physically, until we can return more closely to how we operated before the pandemic. Our teams are committed to work closely with the industry to overcome these challenges.

JA: Is anything emerging as a particular concern in terms of the outlook?

AR: Looking ahead, consumer demand appears strong. This can bode well for future production. However, as noted, we can likely expect to see continued variability in manufacturing because of the ongoing chip shortage and supply issues. This can have a detrimental impact on the supply base. We can all agree that we need a supply chain healthy enough to continue providing all the content found in a car. To do that, we would benefit from further proactive collaboration between OEMs and suppliers to better manage and address some of these challenges.

JA: Do you have a message for Just Auto’s readers?

AR: We can be sure that 2022 will bring more challenges and change. With that said, we as an industry have proven how resilient, adaptable and creative we can be. Those qualities will see us through, and I know our automotive team at SABIC is determined to do our part. We certainly have reasons to be optimistic. Innovation in our industry is healthy and ongoing. The shift to electrification is accelerating and opening up new opportunities for many. Producing vehicles that have less impact on the planet is a mission increasingly embraced by all actors across the value chain. We are excited to be part of this seismic transformation with everyone in the coming years, knowing that the work we are doing together is truly fulfilling a higher purpose for the world.