Chip Shortages Force Ford and GM to Remove Popular Options on Millions of Vehicles


While we haven’t heard too much about it lately, the ongoing semiconductor shortage is leaving new car buyers in the cold, literally.

Ford and General Motors have recently taken the unprecedented move of selling cars and trucks without all of the chips the models were designed to include, with the promise to retrofit them as soon as they’re available. 

Common Features No Longer Part of New Vehicles

That means heated steering wheels, an immensely popular feature, will be hard to come by until the middle of the year on some of GM’s most popular models like Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe. That particular shortage is expected to clear up shortly, but you can’t even order a Suburban with heated or ventilated seats and park assist is not happening either. It’s difficult to imagine the buyers of large vehicles (particularly in cold climates) being too thrilled that such basic features aren’t available.

Rear seat passengers in the Ford Explorer, the best selling SUV in America, won’t be able to adjust the temperature on their own as a result of the shortages, with the automaker beginning to build and ship them without the chip necessary for that feature in an effort to clear inventory from their Dearborn, MI headquarters. 

This comes after the automaker was forced to discontinue offering a fuel-saving “stop start” feature on its F150 pickup truck. This technology, called cylinder-deactivation, shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Ford is not alone in having difficulties keeping this feature available, GM was also forced to stop offering cylinder-deactivation on its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups.

Ongoing Disruption Around the World

So even though Covid-19 isn’t dominating the headlines as much as it used to, and large portions of the U.S. have gone back to life-as-we-once-knew-it, we’re not out of the proverbial woods yet. The entire city of Shanghai is currently under lockdown, despite relatively low symptomatic case numbers, as cases skyrocket there. Airlines cancel flights regularly due to staff illnesses. And the ever-present threat of food and fertilizer shortage looms over the world as supermarkets begin to allow rationing in response to the effects of the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

Many of these disruptions will pass. The chips will show up and the seats will warm up again. As Omicron wanes, so will service interruptions due to worker illness. But they’re good reminders that the supply chain is not yet fully recovered from the pandemic, and will most likely be in a constant state of flux for years to come. Make sure to bookmark our resources page, as we’ll be sure to keep you updated on everything relevant in the world of the global electronics value chain. 

Paul McNamara
Paul McNamara
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