20 thoughts on “The Auto Chip Shortage”

  1. Ford has had that problem for a few months now.

    Of course, I waited too long to buy a new F250

  2. Excess production capacity but unable to manufacture the parts they need. Maybe the auto companies should look into chip manufacturing as a side hustle.

    1. It takes a lot of money and a long time to build a fab, even on the older nodes ECUs can get away with using. And then it takes another long time to actually produce the chips once the line’s ready to roll (some chips can take up to 3 months to fabricate, apparently.)

      1. Fortunately, they have deep pockets, inhouse world class engineers, and enough time before the chip shortage is expected to end to regret every day they didn’t start sooner.

        Snark aside, companies this large should be planning in some resiliency and since the government has been successful at persuading them to transfer to all electric fleets both groups should have been concerned about where the chips would come from and downsides to supply constrictions. But back to the snark, they didn’t think about where electricity comes from either so…

  3. I ordered a Toyota 4Runner on June 12 of this year. It will replace my 2005 Tundra pickup, a rear-wheel drive vehicle that has performed yeoman service – 175,000 miles, with minimal maintenance. But I need a 4 wheel drive vehicle because of the steepness of the road leading to my house, and the fact that we can’t count on it being plowed in the winter.

    I received confirmation two weeks ago that the 4Runner was going to be built the following week, then shipped from Japan to the U.S. The dealership told me that when Toyota in Japan confirmed the build and ship information, they also said “Don’t order any more 4Runners. We can’t build any more.” So I got in just under the wire.

    I’m 67, so this will be the last motor vehicle I ever buy. I’m just glad I got the order in when I did.

    1. I wouldn’t count on it. I bought my Subarus when I was 67, and thought the same thing, but now, at 70, I’m not so sure. Meanwhile, my 2001 Ranger still runs fine and is easily repaired.

      1. I’m assuming that Toyota has maintained the quality standards I’ve experienced in every one of their vehicles I’ve had. When I worked at ATK, they gave us courses in Toyota quality management, and I was genuinely impressed (ATK never used any of it, naturally).

        I had one recall on it, for a faulty airbag. They pestered me for several years, and I finally relented and took it in to the Manassas Toyota dealer. I was blown away by that place, which reminded me of what people think NASA works like (but doesn’t). Modern, absolutely spotless, high-tech, staffed by people who were absolutely professional in every respect. They gave me a Prius loaner while they fixed the airbags, and I was genuinely impressed with that car.

        The one thing about the experience that unsettled me was that, when I made the appointment on line, all I gave them was the VIN. I didn’t even give them my name. But when I handed the guy behind the counter the registration, he looked up the VIN, and then rattled off a whole lot of personal information about the, to make sure it was me. WTF?

        But I digress. If I bought any other vehicle, it would be as an engineering test bed for some ideas I have about automotive improvement.

        1. I went to high school in Manassas, but that was a long time ago. I also owned a couple of Toyotas, a 1976 Corolla wagon that was all but indestructible and a 1992 Tercel coupe that was a piece of crap. I got the Subarus because even the Impreza has all-wheel drive (I have a 400 foot mud driveway, and it does snow here in the winter). I haven’t got any complaints about them as cars, just about the dealership’s ability to make repairs in a timely fashion. The Durham Toyota dealership is no great shakes either. The Oxford Ford dealership gave me a runaround when I wanted to buy a manual transmission Fiesta. I actually walked out. My thought is, NC car dealerships are like criminal enterprises.

  4. Exactly where will the US source chips for its military in the future? This seems … unfortunate.

      1. Judging by how our generals are acting on social media, they are more worried about the guacamole supply chain than knowing civics and winning wars.

  5. Hrmmm. I’m actually wondering if there’s a silver lining in this. Depending on what sort of chips they’re short of, maybe they’ll find it worthwhile to make some vehicles without so much of the electronic garbage most now have, such as “connected” cars, systems, etc.

    I’ve been refraining from buying a new vehicle because so many have that stuff, and I won’t have it in a vehicle of mine. I’d be happy to order it without it, but it seems a lot don’t have that option, and I really don’t want to spend my first day with a new car ripping stuff out of it. And don’t even get me started on where they put those dang shark fin antennas this garbage uses; right in the middle of the roof rack, this making it far less useful as a, you know, roof rack…

    1. “Depending on what sort of chips they’re short of, maybe they’ll find it worthwhile to make some vehicles without so much of the electronic garbage most now have, such as “connected” cars, systems, etc.”

      What I’ve heard is that it’s primarily ECUs they’re short of.

    2. There is demand for vehicles like this and the industry knows about it but they aren’t perusing it because they are getting in on the big data game, want to appease lefty politicians, they think computers are cool, and it allows them to charge higher prices for the initial sale and for repairs.

      We need a Tesla for dependable cars that people can repair on their own. They don’t necessarily need to be free of all chips but should comply with right to repair.

      Gonna be hard to do because some states are outlawing ICE engines and all the other challenges of building cars on a mass scale.

  6. Only tangentially related, but I have safety recalls on both my Subarus. The local dealership says they can’t do the mandated repairs because they “can’t get the parts.” I’ll be writing letters of complaint to Subaru, the dealership owner, and NHTSA, but I doubt it will matter.

    1. I had that problem with my RAM pickup…it took two years to get the necessary parts for a mandatory recall.

      Seems like a bad way to run a business.

        1. Mine was terrible – In two years I went through three sets of front wheel bearings, two rotors, three transfer cases, two front differentials, a transmission, and a power steering system (all of it, pump to actuator).

          The car before that was a ’97 GMC Yukon which had a problem with the transmission – Three rebuilt under warranty (the last done by the dealer was basically replace everything but the bell housing with the serial number, and the dipstick – the list of parts was a dozen or more pages long) and one done by an independent shop that actually fixed it after warranty, an intake manifold, and eventually, water pump, alternator, and when I got rid of it at 259k miles it needed a radiator and the AC replaced. I would have fixed those, but it would have left me with a 12 year old truck with 259k miles that needed a paint job so not much faith in it

  7. I suspect the more advanced chips in cars are required for the “connectivity” and entertainment system possibly the mandated Electronic stability control and other driver aids.
    Engines are easy, half a dozen inputs and it turns at a max of around 100 times a second, so 10,000 microseconds per rev and outputs are ignition timing and fuel injection timing and duration. Not much of a microcontroller required.

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