Buying a New Car? Read here! (Chip Shortage)

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Buying a New Car? Read here! (Chip Shortage)

AndyRKett

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Just finished reading a couple of articles about the Chip Shortage.

For anyone who doesn't know about this, basically there is a world shortage in the number of computer microchips needed for all our modern technology.

Obviously it affects things like computers, phones and other gadgets but these days our gadgets include our cars which are packed full of computer chips and modules to operate everything from the engine management to how long the interior light takes to dim to off.

As a result they have been warning in shortages or long delays in getting new cars, but now the manufactures are dealing with this in a very different way and just deleting options from the specifications of a car without telling anyone.

Some examples which may really only be applicable to high end luxury cars include removing things like Electric seat adjustment, or premium audio system.

Somethings are more trivial like taking away a wireless mobile phone charger that would be built in or reducing the number of UCB ports available for charging.

But there are much bigger things going missing, such as ford and Nissan removing SatNav from many of their models, or BMW removing the Touch screen (just the touch bit not the screen) from their SUV's) sometimes the first customers are finding out about this is when they pick up their new car to find features missing that they just assumed would be there. Tesla is in trouble for removing passenger seat lumber support and not telling anyone.

This all seems kinda petty and silly, non of this stuff is really "needed" per se, but if you're buying a new car at the moment be very careful to make sure you know what you've ordered and what you should get, so you know if anything is missing when the car is finally delivered. You might not be able to get the features you want added, but you might be able to get some money back on the car, or if its something massive and very important to you, then you might want to consider rejecting the car in extreme cases.


The Chip Shortage is expected to be with us for at least another couple of years, so even if you're not buying a new car now, this may be important to you going forward, or even start to effect second hand cars with some being priced the same but missing things compared to slightly older cars
 

StevenRB45

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Seem to recall as well that because car makers use chips that are defunct for other purposes it's unlikely to suddenly turn round unless they make things in a different way.

The chips they use are very large in terms of the process size. So if you were to set up a factory making chips...you'd not make these as they are about 10-15 years behind and only used in cars. Cars are a relatively small, low profit market for chips compared to everything else you could be making with your new factory in the midst of chip shortage.

Would absolutely suck if your new car arrived not as described though...
 
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AndyRKett

AndyRKett

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The articles suggest a weird array of things they are deleting from the spec sheets but a lot of them tend to be things like heated seats which don’t exactly require some high end processor, so either they are removing things that people will do without to try and cut costs to pay higher premiums for chips that are needed, or like you say they’re old chip designs that are not massively profitable so manufacturers are are not making them in favour of something with a higher profit margin.

Like you say it may need to redesign the modules to use more readily available devices
 

StevenRB45

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The other option is you de-spec the car in a different way cut down on the processing power required.

The old car had all the mod cons as such..but in terms of electrical system it was very 90s.

All the BCM did was determine if a system had power, if the key was on it had power simple as that. So for example if you fancied a flat battery you could run the electric seats with the engine off if you'd set it to "run" but not fired it. The physical switches determined what a given system was doing.

Few issues with doing it like that, the system can not override the physical position of the switches so welcome home lighting...or to your door lighting...or any of the little rituals car manufacturers seem to be adding when you unlock become much harder to achieve.

I'd imagine very few suppliers still make physical switches that can handle higher than the tiny voltage required to trigger the response in the ecu.

Other part would be you lose configurability as everything is effectively direct wired so even if you do recreate some of the fancy bits with timers etc. You cannot change factory settings.


Moving to none automotive grade chips is probably more likely..but they have possible longevity concerns. What works in a phone for 3 years is not necessarily good in a car at all temperature ranges for 20 years +.
 

Didge3

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Modern cars are full of smaller control modules, there will be a body control module that handles signalling so when you press a button it handles sending the relevant messages but it'll send them to another module, for example the heated seats which will also have a module that sets the heat level and protects for overcurrent short circuits etc (the last thing you want is a combusting seat). I imagine they're just cutting out these unnecessary modules, however simple they may be they still contain I/O chips
 

FiatMatt94

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I seriously don't know why people need all this rubbish in their cars as a car is for driving & nothing else, the infortainment screens are just distracting especially at night & all these unnecessary driving aids such as reversing sensors, reversing cameras, lane changing & auto braking, basically these cars are just dumbed down for the imbiciles who should never have been in possesion of a driving license in the first place but the one thing that I really hate the most is the annoying start stop systems nearly all of them seem to have now, luckily my Panda has none of these hateful features & is cheaper to maintain than my sisters MK7 Golf GTI with the awful DSG gearbox which makes her about £700 lighter everytime it goes to its regular garage visits, I wouldn't mind if the car was nice but in reality it's a turd, if anything ever happened to mine it would replaced it with a MOT/tax exempt car or something that is close to it as these new cars have no character, style & as apealing as a thumb in the eye so I would rather spend the money on something good looking & fun. The only new car on sale that is really good looking & I would buy is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 in red, if only I won the lottery.
 
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chris3234

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The problem is all of the "system for useless people " as you call them have been proven to make cars safer and many of which are now required by UK/EU law in new cars
 

StevenRB45

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That and due to the way the country is set up, you must drive whether you want to or not.

Generally if you're uninterested in something but must do it you'll do it to the lowest standard necessary. Due to the absolute lack of Road policing the lowest standard necessary is "Don't Crash".

If you removed these things people would still be disinterested...and more likely to hit you.

Also modern safety standards have knackered visibility with thick pillars and high sides so proper observation is hard to impossible in some cars. The one thing I really miss from my old car is over the shoulder visibility, it had a window in the C pillar just big enough you could look over your left shoulder and check for a car or pedestrian on my rear left. No longer have that...and the rear quarterlight is fake and made of black plastic. You can check directly left and use the mirror but that does leave a blind spot.

Same issues reversing, the rear view camera gives you view similar to if it was a cabrio. The other thing being as well you can only ever look in one direction at once really. Eg. reversing into my street I need to reverse past a car and parallel park behind it while avoiding a wall with about 2 inch clearance front corner. If you're looking forward to check that and a local urchin comes shooting round the blind corner other end behind you the parking sensors will have gone off before you've turned your head.

You can drive without these things...and I hate stuff that takes control inputs away from you or drives for you but got no problem with assistance systems that actually do assist.
 

DaveMcT

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It should not be necessary, but an additional blind spot mirror makes a big difference for van driving and most cars of today that are more like vans for 3/4 rear visibility.
 

The Panda Nut

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Just finished reading a couple of articles about the Chip Shortage.

For anyone who doesn't know about this, basically there is a world shortage in the number of computer microchips needed for all our modern technology.

Obviously it affects things like computers, phones and other gadgets but these days our gadgets include our cars which are packed full of computer chips and modules to operate everything from the engine management to how long the interior light takes to dim to off.

As a result they have been warning in shortages or long delays in getting new cars, but now the manufactures are dealing with this in a very different way and just deleting options from the specifications of a car without telling anyone.

Some examples which may really only be applicable to high end luxury cars include removing things like Electric seat adjustment, or premium audio system.

Somethings are more trivial like taking away a wireless mobile phone charger that would be built in or reducing the number of UCB ports available for charging.

But there are much bigger things going missing, such as ford and Nissan removing SatNav from many of their models, or BMW removing the Touch screen (just the touch bit not the screen) from their SUV's) sometimes the first customers are finding out about this is when they pick up their new car to find features missing that they just assumed would be there. Tesla is in trouble for removing passenger seat lumber support and not telling anyone.

This all seems kinda petty and silly, non of this stuff is really "needed" per se, but if you're buying a new car at the moment be very careful to make sure you know what you've ordered and what you should get, so you know if anything is missing when the car is finally delivered. You might not be able to get the features you want added, but you might be able to get some money back on the car, or if its something massive and very important to you, then you might want to consider rejecting the car in extreme cases.


The Chip Shortage is expected to be with us for at least another couple of years, so even if you're not buying a new car now, this may be important to you going forward, or even start to effect second hand cars with some being priced the same but missing things compared to slightly older cars
Pandas on the top then. None of this crap fitted in the first place, so delete away away. I was thinking of a new Panda Cross but see the list price is £20000 so thats the end of that. I anticipate they would want my 10K old one and the same as I paid on top .... I may relent if the production ceases but not otherwise.
 

DaveMcT

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Tesla completely resigned their car electronics with a single Linux based computer that does everything. No lashed up ECU-BCM-NSU-LGB carp for them. One box with current chip technology does it all. The chip shortage caused a few issues but they redesigned the operating system and had it sorted in a couple of weeks. The Legacy car makers buy everything from outside suppliers and simply cant do this sort of thing.

The Legacy car makers are also struggling to move stock, so how much of their reducing sales is due to lack of chips and how much is due to buyers hanging on to perfectly good new(ish) cars? Many buyers are waiting for an affordable EV to arrive. Or for their order to reach the end of the Tesla waiting list? Others are just sick of being conned into buying a new car every three years.
 

s130

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Talking of visibility and blind spots in relation to modern car design brings me to additional extension mirrors when towing. The law states that you must be able to see directly backwards along the sides of your "train" for 20m and at 20m your field of view must be 4m wide (when in a straight line). Luckily I tow an Eriba caravan which is only 2m wide wheel arch tip to wheel arch tip and the body width is fractionally less. With my 500X and previous Croma I do not need extension mirrors BUT the additional view they would bring when reversing or on bends in the road would be a bonus.

Modern wing mirrors with either manual or electrical folding are just plain dangerous. Slap an extension on and when cruising along then the wake from fast cars, busses, lorries etc. often cause the mirror to fold in. Driver distraction and frustration! Even if they don't fold in then they tend to vibrate and shake giving you a difficult image to interpret with respect to speed and distance etc.

Next little problem is those "aero" wing mirror housing. The extension mirrors with rubber straps are not very secure and can slip on the very curved casings potentially causing a road debris/projectile hazard. Those that clamp onto the casing edge just don't safely fit as the tongue/plate that is supposed to slip between the mirror glass edge and the mirror housing often fouls the wing mirror glass so you can't adjust your mirror and risk breaking it. To get them to fit securely you have to adjust you main mirror so you can see diddly squat!

Then there are a minority of motorists who don't know the laws regarding towing and mirrors and honk, wave, flash, abuse etc. because they see a car towing an "object" and they dictate you must have extension mirrors. Thankfully the police are more observant than these people as when they are behind you they can see the car mirrors, see the driver in the mirror and I can see them.

I do carry extension mirrors as there are times/circumstances where they can be of use.
 

DaveMcT

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These days, we would be better to fit cameras to the trailer and wire them back to a screen the driver can see. Obviously, more money than strap on mirrors but those I had 25 years ago were just as carp as @s130 says and they had no power folding to deal with.
 
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