They area little bigger than a coin the size of a quarter, but tiny semiconductor chipsarebringing production of vehiclesacross the nation to a halt.
Car dealers havebarren parking lots, consumers face limited options on new vehicle purchasesand buyers must wait, and wait, for their new rideto be built. Tens of thousands of new vehicles sit in parking lots awaiting semiconductor chips before they can be shipped to dealers.
Here's what you need to know about semiconductor chips:
So what are these chips?
The chips are tiny transistors made from silicon, which is found in most of the minerals on the earth's surface. They allow computers,smart phones, appliances and other electrical devicesto function. Vehicles use chips, too.
Siliconfeeds a $500 billionchip industry, according to a report by the BBC. The chips underpin aglobal tech economy worth an estimated $3 trillion, the report said. The raw materials for thesemiconductor business often comefrom Japan and Mexico, with the chips made in Taiwan, China and some in the U.S.
What is the chip shortage?
The chip shortage is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased demand for the personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops that the chips are used in to the point where production could not keep pace with demand.
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Why is there a chip shortage?
So in March 2020,the global pandemic prompted automakers, suppliers and car dealerships to close down. The economy went into a recession.
The automakers, who haveexperienced previous recessions,quickly canceled orders for parts with computer chips, thinking auto sales would nosedive, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.
Sales of new cars did plummet initially, but quickly rebounded with pent-up demand and0% financing offers. Also, dealers figured out how to sell vehicles online, offering homepickup and delivery.
So when the factories restarted, the stronger-than-expected demand for new vehicles outpacedproduction andhas yet to catch up.
"Automakers and suppliers that use chips contacted their chipmakers and put back their orders," Krebs said. "By then, chip capacity was consumed by other businesses —phones, computers, video games —as people worked and schooled at home."
Global chip production is monopolized by a few global, Asia-Pacific suppliers, said Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions LLC.
"Everyone’s lights went off at the same time. This means that there was no ability to build inventory of products and solutions when businesses were able to turn their lights back on," McCabe said. "This created a significant bottleneck in all manufacturing processes."
The chip deficit was furthercomplicated by a fire at plant owned by chipmaker Renesas Electronics in Japan. The damage was extensive and the plantis not yet up to full production, but they are hoping it will reach full production in June, Krebs said.
Why is there so much competition for chips?
In September,global consulting firm AlixPartners in Southfield said thechip shortages could cost the global auto industry $210billion in revenuefor the year.
GM CEO Mary Barra has saidthe shortage could cost GM upto $2 billion in lostearnings this year. Barra said GMexpected chip supplies to return to normal in the second half of the year.
The Alliance for Auto Innovation,the trade group that represents automakers, said the shortage could hurt auto production for another six months and result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles being madein the U.S. this year.
So it is critical for automakers to get as many chips as possible to keep assembly lines moving to mitigate losses.
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It remains unclear whetherautomakers might be able to make up that production and any revenue losses over time, Krebs said.
"The losses are being offset by higher vehicle prices and less expense," Krebs said. "Almost every automaker in every region has been forced to make production cuts. As a result, inventories are extremely low while consumer demand is extremely high. That means vehicle prices are high."
In the first week of June, the average listing price of a new vehicle was $40,566, up nearly $200 from the prior week.The average listing price was 5.5% above last year, and 10.3% above the same week in 2019, Krebs said.
Used car prices are alsohigh because with new cars not moving, trade-ins aren't happening creating a shortage ofused cars. too. Theaverage listing price for a used vehicle was $23,786, up nearly $340 from the prior week, Krebs said. Prices are running 22% above 2020 and 2019 levels, she said.
Why is my vehicle delayed because of chips?
Many automakers have idled factories and stopped making some vehicles altogether so as to ship whatever chips they can get to more in-demand highly profitable vehicles such as pickups and SUVs. Also, GM and Ford Motor Co. are building the vehicles withoutthe chips, then parking them to await the part. Once the chips arrive, those vehicles are put through final assembly and shipped to dealers. But the delay can be weeks.
In the meantime, supplyofnew vehicles is at an all-time low, Krebs said. Used supply is slowly rising due to a slowing sales pace. These trends likely will continue over the coming weeks since there is little that could change the current situation, Krebs said.
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What sorts of things are chips used for in vehicles?
Carsuse the chipsin a variety of electronics systems. One car part could use500 to 1,500 chips depending on the complexity of the part.
How long will the chip shortage last?
Cisco CEOChuck Robbins told the BBC in late April: "We think we've got another six months to get through the short term. The providers are building out more capacity. And that'll get better and better over the next 12 to 18 months."
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How are the automakers adjusting, or not adjusting?
In the short term, automakers have been cutting the production of vehicles like cars that are not as much in demand and not as profitable as pickups and SUVs, so as to redirectchips from carsinto the money-making vehicles.
They also are building vehicles and parking them until chips become available.
Or they are building vehicles without some features —Tesla has taken out the passenger side lumbar support; GM took out fuel-saving features like automatic start-stop and the fuel management module.
Long term, automakers are examining their supply chains. The just-in-time-inventory system that they took from Toyota may be revamped some with critical parts like chips, Krebs said.
The chipmakers are trying to boost productionand are looking at – and some committing to – building more capacity, includingin the U.S.
The Biden administration has also assigneda task force to study the chips'supply chain.The U.S. Senate has voted 68-32 in favor of legislation intended to battle back againstoverseas competition, especially a growing threat from China, including investing more than $50 billion into the making of semiconductors.
Looking forward, automakers, suppliers and government officials are looking at EVs and where batteries and other partscome from as they pushfor North American production.
"The chip shortage demonstrated our exposure to a limited domestic production capacity to the point where it has turned into an issue of national security," McCabe said. "Each major global market is now getting full support from their governments for a combination of domestic and redundant supply streams. Expect to see many new, smaller chip producers, scale up to help mitigate the issue in the future —with government money supporting the efforts."
McCabe said carmakers are likely to become more vertically integrated in chip production, taking direct responsibility for multi-year, high-volume contracts to make sure there are no future capacity constraints. Volkswagen has already indicated this direction.
As most carmakers including Ford and GM move toward electric vehicles,the need for high volume, and more complex chips will help shape the global chip manufacturing landscape, McCabe said.
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Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Read more on General Motors and sign up for our autos newsletter. Become a subscriber.
Are there any car manufacturers not affected by the chip shortage? ›
- 2021 Hyundai Sonata.
- 2021 Jeep Compass.
- 2021 Nissan Titan.
- 2021 Nissan Altima.
- 2021 Ram 1500 Classic.
- 2021 Nissan Sentra.
- 2021 Volvo XC60.
- 2021 Ford Expedition.
In response to these pressures, some carmakers have started to order more chips than they need. Others are requesting “take or pay” contracts in which they can either accept a certain quantity of chips or pay a fee if they decline to do so; this arrangement helps companies match chip demand to manufacturing capacity.Which auto makers are hit hardest by chip shortage? ›
The most affected
A report from AutoForecast Solutions showed that Ford was the hardest hit by the global chip shortage, pulling more than 230,000 vehicles from its production schedule. Chevrolet was the second hardest hit U.S. automaker with a production cut of 140,800 vehicles.
Chipmakers who are major suppliers to the automotive industry, such as Infineon Technologies, expect a gradual easing of the shortage, while risks of further supply chain disruptions remain. For 2023, Infineon expects the demand-supply situation to stabilize as the shortage eases further.Will car prices drop in 2022? ›
Used car prices are already starting to drop as the market cools, having seemingly peaked in early 2022. On the other hand, new vehicle prices are unlikely to drop in 2022 due to persistent inflationary pressures. “There's still a lot of inflation bubbling up in the new vehicle supply chain.How long will chip shortage last for cars? ›
The second half of 2022 will start to reflect supply chain recovery according to J.P. Morgan Research. Global car production is forecasted to be up 7% in the 2023 fiscal year, with sequential improvements expected from the second half of 2022 as the chip shortage gradually improves.