To be sure, this tumult is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and what it has done to manufacturing and the industry as a whole this year. But as with COVID-19, there are comorbidities that make some cases more dire. In the case of struggling auto suppliers, debt looks to be the hidden killer.
Many suppliers spent the decade after the Great Recession doing precisely what their customers, the automakers, asked them to do: consolidate to drive down costs, and expand their R&D operations.
Automakers reaped the benefits of those actions through both lower pricing and the shifting of their own in-house R&D efforts, and suppliers profited as well, at least when times were good.