back to article Whenever automakers get their hands on chip supplies, the more expensive vehicles are first in line – NXP

Car makers are shutting down factories because of semiconductor shortages – and whatever chips they can get their hands are going into more expensive vehicles. "We have seen multiple OEMs prioritize to production of premium vehicles, which require upwards of twice the semiconductor content from NXP and others," said Kurt …

  1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Start Stop

    I don't understand why it needs a whole bloody IC for stop/start, but if anyone wants the chip from my car they can have it. It's bloody annoying and I automatically press the disable button on the dash when I turn the key.

    1. LogicGate

      Run ..... ?

      Well.. Some people find it useful to have a car with a working fuel injection / ignition system.

      It is, off course, possible to solve the issue electzro-mechanically, but your car would definately suffer from taking such a step backwards.

      Oh.. And many safety features, such as airbags would also have to be removed.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Run ..... ?

        But *most* of the chips[1] are nothing to do with running the engine or the brakes and are there merely to provide a cheap differentiator so that the manufacturer can stick a different label on the back of the car and twenty grand on the ticket.

        A no-brainer for the bean counters and the sales droids, but finding a poverty-spec car without all the automated driver aid bollocks is becoming more and more difficult.

        [1] One chip for the ECU, one chip for the ABS, one chip for the airbags, one chip for the remote locking and windows. All of which can be done with eight bit 1990's technology. Everything else is fluff. But conveniently expensive fluff.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Run ..... ?

          As a Reg reader I'd have hoped you would have a better understanding that it's not a simple/singular 'chip'. Everything within a car is a module. Entertainment module, ABS module, climate control module, airbag module. They all communicate with each other over a network (CAN) like a LAN, feeding each other telemetry. My cruise control wouldn't activate due to a defective switch behind my clutch pedal for instance - They're all extremely tightly intertwined in any modern vehicle and you can't just randomly leave certain bits out.

          My business partner ordered an A class Mercedes in February and received it last month without the augmented sat-nav (Gimmicky anyway if you ask me) and no ability to press the 'SOS' button above your head in case of an emergency/breakdown. Mercedes offered to retrofit the components in the future, but still delivered the car regardless.

          I ordered an Audi A3 (Not a premium vehicle, really..) in February and have been advised the components for the stereo unit and the reversing camera are currently unavailable therefore they won't deliver the vehicle until it's complete. I've heard stories of VW releasing cars in Europe with no stereo which quite frankly, sounds ridiculous..

          All this seems to have highlighted is how small the pool of available semiconductor manufacturers is globally. On the flip-side, it's hardly worth building a fab in the midst of the chaos as by the time it's operational things will have subsided. Catch 22 I guess...

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Run ..... ?

            "My cruise control wouldn't activate due to a defective switch behind my clutch pedal for instance - They're all extremely tightly intertwined in any modern vehicle and you can't just randomly leave certain bits out."

            But that begs the question as to why there is a switch behind your clutch pedal in the first place. It's just bad design that random bits of th ecar won't work when other random bits also don't work or are missing. And anything related to engine, throttle, steering control etc should have a high resilience, and therefore not depend on any other random chips being there or not.

            1. Gene Cash Silver badge

              Re: Run ..... ?

              why there is a switch behind your clutch pedal in the first place

              So the computer can shut off cruise, and not over-rev your engine when you push the clutch.

              I assume the defective switch is failed to always-on, so of course cruise doesn't activate.

              Isn't that rather obvious?

            2. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Run ..... ?

              BEcause pressing a clutch is suposed to disable cruise control, is a standard feature for CC when gearbox not auto.

            3. EveryTime

              Re: Run ..... ?

              Others have covered the need for the switch.

              Oh, and the clutch probably has two switches, one for the start of travel and a second for clutch disengagement. The latter is used for engine load estimation for emissions control.

              The switch itself is almost certainly using a Hall Effect device in place of mechanical contacts. That device is a complex chip with thousands of transistors. The same is true for dozens of other switches and sensors in the engine and body. The door locks, power windows, HVAC system, fluid level detection, etc all likely have Hall Effect devices. And this is just one aspect of chip use that people overlook, thinking that they are "just switches".

          2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Run ..... ?

            As a Reg reader I'd have hoped you would have a better understanding that it's not a simple/singular 'chip'.

            Of course I know that. But I also know that it doesn't have to be like that. Certainly they're modules connected by a bus, but they could equally well be stand alone modules... indeed, until the 2000's that was pretty much how it was done.

            For example, to use your example of a cruise control: it's basically a simple servo control designed to keep the speed (not engine) at a constant speed. It needs three inputs only - a signal from the speed sensor, a signal from the brake pedal, and a signal from the clutch pedal. Its output is either a DC override of a fly-by-wire throttle, or on an older car, a direct drive to the accelerator cable mechanism.

            That's it. It has no need to know whether the lights or on, or that it's the matching-numbers part for that vehicle. It doesn't need to talk to the door locks or the rear lights; it doesn't need to know the steering angle or even whether its raining. That's not it's job.

            Even without adding fluff (what is the point of lane following or vehicle-in-front-speed limiting, for a driver who is alert and knows how to drive? And if you are going to add the fluff, how come in a world in which built in satnav is common, so the vehicle systems are aware of local speed limits, do cruise controls allow you to set and maintain a speed greater than the limit?) using a serial bus to talk to an on-off device like a mechanical switch is poor design: there are too many steps in the way of a critical signal. I appreciate that the use of Canbus switching can save weight of copper cables, but it's not a universal panacea.

            And when someone is trying to sell me a car on the grounds that it has better internet than another model... well, I guess I'm not their target market.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Run ..... ?

              My wife drives what's currently her second small Suzuki. I've never been able to work out the exact logical that determines when you can unlock the drivers door/all doors/boot in relation to each other.

              One of the reasons why I didn't buy a third Subaru was the fact that it had the stupidly unnecessary electric handbrake. I did read up about it, however. AFAICR the logic inputs operating it included the seat-belt switch.

              1. hoola Silver badge

                Re: Run ..... ?

                Ha ha...

                We have a Suzuki Swift as a courtesy car at the moment and I equally have no idea how you get the various openings to open when you want them to.

                It is also a manual hybrid. If you believe the silly display then it has never reached full charge. If you take your foot of the accelerator it promptly slows (as in braking effect, not coasting) up because it thinks it can now charge. It only appears to use the battery for power when you accelerate really hard and never uses electric only.

                Bluntly a total and utter waste of motor, generator, chips and resources.

            2. MrBanana Silver badge

              Re: Run ..... ?

              "It needs three inputs only - a signal from the speed sensor, a signal from the brake pedal, and a signal from the clutch pedal."

              And the enable/disable/set switch, and you may have a switch to increase the set speed without having to reset it, also possibly a coast switch. For outputs you will have a dash light to give feedback on the current state. So lots of wires in older vehicles, and non-simple CAN bus integration with other modules such as the steering wheel buttons and dashboard in newer vehicles.

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                Re: Run ..... ?

                True. I was considering only its actual operation. But even then, you need one output to an (unnecessary in my opinion) light on the dash, and a couple of wires to make it faster or slower. But the point remains, integrating canbus left right and centre is not the only way and in many ways not necessarily the best way.

            3. Persona Silver badge

              Re: Run ..... ?

              It's also receiving a signal from the throttle pedal to allow you to choose to go faster then revert to the set speed, though perhaps you covered that as an output. In addition to the brake pedal the automatic collision avoidance breaking also turns off cruise control and if you car has the option the cruise control speed can be automatically modified by the signal from the radar indicating the distance to the car in front. Additionally the set speed is sent to the instrument cluster so that you can see that the cruise control is on and the selected speed. Speed is also "controlled" to some extent by things like "key present" security so along the way the CAN bus becomes much more practical than stand alone modules.

            4. Glen 1

              Re: Run ..... ?

              "Even without adding fluff (what is the point of lane following or vehicle-in-front-speed limiting, for a driver who is alert and knows how to drive?"

              If the driver is alert and knows how to drive, why do you need cruise control in the first place?

              Those reasons you're thinking of? That's what the "fluff" is for.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Run ..... ?

          ECUs take much more than "one chip" and require much more processing power than an 8-bit micro.

          Squeezing out performance, reliability, and emissions concerns takes a lot of brains in the engine.

          I have a fairly old (model year ca. 2008) ECU on my desk that has 20 ICs onboard (not counting the discrete SOT23 transistors). Two of them are 32-bit NXP microcontrollers. Several others are bespoke ICs from Bosch.

          To run the engine, this ECU will communicate with a throttle controller (probably a dedicated CAN IC plus bespoke IC for control), an ignition module (~5 ICs), a transmission control module (~8 ICs, IIRC), and various sensors that have 0-2 ICs (crank sensor, cam sensor, inlet air temp, exhaust temp sensors, O2 sensors, MAF sensor, etc.).

          That's "just" a gasoline engine. Diesel gets more demanding to control. (Not my field, but gas is pretty much "watch MAF and O2, adjust fuel timing to average just LOP", diesel is "watch the chatacteristics of every injector as they fire, adjust as required per this fuel map", both get more complicated when you consider emissions).

          Misc controls on the body and chassis can be done with one custom chip plus a CAN transceiver chip (CAN transceivers are often dedicated chips, I'm guessing it's easier to make them more rugged when they're built on a separate wafer from the processor). Alternatively, you can do a combo platter of CAN transceiver, general-purpose microprocessor, plus drive hardware like h-bridge drivers.

          Anon just to be safe, I'm not spilling any company secrets, but corp. gets touchy about controller discussions...

          1. adam 40 Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: Run ..... ?

            If you didn't have all those extra algorithms to detect the type approval cycles and lean off the engine or whatever, you could probably get by with an arduino (speeduino) and a lot less ROM and RAM.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Run ..... ?

        ECUs, anti-lock brakes and airbags are autonomous units that aren't integrated with the infotainment/satnav systems (unless you count indications on the infotainment screen as essential). (FWIW my motorcycle has fuel injection and anti-lock brakes....just about everything has now.)

        I'm familiar with a 'clutch' because I'm old but you'd be surprised how many people in the US cannot work a stick shift. They're kind of redundant, doubly so with all the electrics now out there. I'd regard a manual transmission and automated driving aids like cruise control (and especially adaptive cruise control) as incompatible.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Start Stop

      What's annoying about it - Stop at lights, put yourself in neutral, release clutch, engine cuts.

      Put clutch in to engage gear, engine starts so it's ready by the time you can drop the clutch to start moving.

      Or does your car do something different to every vehicle I've been in with it?

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Start Stop

        I assume you've never been in a vehicle where the battery's shit the bed, and you're a college student too poor/busy to replace it until the end of the week and you still need to get to school.

        So the engine stops, and the battery's too duff to restart it. You're fucked. In the middle of the intersection. With horns blaring behind you. I would think that'd be annoying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Start Stop

          That sounds like a faulty system (or badly designed in that car model).

          All the cars I've driven that had auto-start-stop, monitor the battery charge level, and if below a certain level (and also when the engine was cold) the auto-start-stop would disable itself. Only once the engine was warmed up, and there was enough charge in the battery, would it enable itself.

        2. Wellyboot Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Start Stop

          Apart from the possibilities of sudden 'borked' syndrome there's also the long term mechanical issues with stop start as I've not seen many stop-start cars with electric oil or water pumps, (beefier starter motors - yes).

          The first stop-start car I drove (rental) put me off it forever, as I left the motorway* and came to a stop at the lights the engine cut out, cutting the oil coolant to the turbo bearings and water circulation to the alloy cylinder head**. I vowed never to buy anything 2nd hand with stop-start.

          * after two hours driving at the limit with engine & turbo merrily spinning away.

          ** both lead to a rapid localised temperature spike which cooks the oil now static in the turbo bearing (still spinning at near 100k RPM) to several hundred degrees and puts stress on all the structures - especially the nearby plastic ones.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Start Stop

            > cutting the oil coolant to the turbo bearings and water circulation to the alloy cylinder head

            That's on purpose, as the goal here is to sell more, and if your engine breaks down after a year or two it's pure profit for the manufacturer. New car or spare parts, it's fresh money you else wouldn't had to give them before quite a while.

            My car's (10+ years old now) instruction manual explicitly says to wait about 10 seconds before switching off the engine after stopping, because of those precise reasons (mostly the turbo). When I first heard about this stop-start malarkey I knew immediately what the purpose was. Definitely not pollution, as starting pollutes more than idling at a traffic light.

        3. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Start Stop

          Yes - that would be annoying, but they don't do that, they won't stop if the battery isn't healthy enough to restart.

      2. Matthew 25

        Re: Start Stop

        I'm always worried that stop start causes extra engine wear.

        All those finely ground bearings require a certain amount of oil pressure to protect and cushion them from the huge forces of exploding petrol / diesel (enough to move a ton or two of car rather briskly) and also stop them moving metal to metal. The pressure is created by pumps driven off the engine (actually part thereof) and dissipates when the engine stops. So every time you start it there is extra wear. This becomes much worse if you load the engine before oil pressure has had chance to build e.g. from a "clutch down - start - go" cycle.

        Start stop is really a bit of a con. Its greenwash for the motor industry to show government that they are reducing the emissions from their vehicles, while at the same time hiding that they are consuming more resources.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Start Stop

          Snap! just posted similar above.

          I suspect that far fewer stop-start motors will reach the milages easily obtained by the last generation of 'traditional' cars from the turn of the century. They'll be economic write offs due to induced early failure in very expensive to fix items, I'd also guess that electronic failure will scrap many for the same reason.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Start Stop

            I think that in most cases, the core mechanicals of cars are not what dooms them in the end, or has not been for the last few decades. In N.Europe, it is usually rust.

            What it is where I live (Algarve) I don't know. I have a 2005 Accord Petrol, it has done 238000km and engine and (aut) gearbox are doing just fine. Suspension is clearly not new anymore. Electrics have some peculiarities, central locking is not reaching passengers door and the display showing interior temp and radio station only works now and then. But it starts and handles just fine.

            My inlaws' Clio is 20, has only done 130000 and is also fine, apart from the clock.

            You could argue the engines/boxes are too good for the rest of the car.

        2. EveryTime

          Re: Start Stop

          It's a bit off topic, but the residual oil film provides plenty of engine bearing protection during start-stop operation. As long as there is oil on the surfaces, the oil creates its own hydrodynamic pressure so there is essentially no bearing wear. Think of the oil pump as providing fresh, cool oil rather than creating the pressure that separates the surfaces.

      3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Start Stop

        @John Robson: I like your logical approach.

        "What's annoying about it? Go to bog. If the toilet seat is up then put it down before you sit."

        I'll try it next time the subject comes up and let you know how I get on. It won't be long.

        BTW - I haven't got a clutch.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Start Stop

          Ok, so it does it when you take your foot off the brake pedal then... not really substantially different.

          Personally I tend to leave toilets with their lids closed, you know, prevention of accidental droppages etc.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Start Stop

            My Renault has an annoying habit whereby if one releases the clutch while the vehicle is still moving, it will occasionally decide it got slow enough to stop when you want to go. Which means you have to clutch in again and wait a second or two before go happens.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Start Stop

              So you're driving along in neutral with the clutch released - why?

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                Re: Start Stop

                e.g. coming to a halt expecting the engine to stop at very low speed, then conditions changing requiring acceleration.

                It's very rare but surprising when it happens.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: Start Stop

                  So leave the clutch depressed, then you don't need to pull back into gear.

                  I know I'm old but I was always taught never to coast like that, it removes a control interface you have with the car.

                  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                    Re: Start Stop

                    This is less of a coast and more of a preparation to stop; in the last second or so the car is still moving while the gear is deselected and the clutch released. It may be even after the actual stop that the engine is turned off (though it does it once the speed is below a couple of meters a second).

                    The issue is not that the engine stops, but that it takes so long to restart if it's still in the process of stopping. It has to finish stopping before it will start again.

                    As I said, it doesn't happen often, but when it does it's a surprise.

                    1. John Robson Silver badge

                      Re: Start Stop

                      I was taught that selecting neutral was done *after* you were at a standstill.

                      Your hand could then go straight to the handbrake.

                      1. MrBanana Silver badge

                        Re: Start Stop

                        Modern fuel injection systems will completely cut off the fuel on the overrun - engine engaged in gear but no throttle input. By coasting to a stop, either with gearbox in neutral, or clutch depressed, you are just wasting fuel. So wait until the last possible moment before actuating the clutch, and it also saves a bit of pad wear by using engine braking.

          2. markrand
            Flame

            Re: Start Stop

            Ah, but the majority of nuts holding steering wheels these days don't seem to realize that one should engage the hand brake whien stationary. The morons just sit there with their doot on the stop pedal and the car champing at it's metaphorical bit.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Start Stop

              And some cars make it look like that.

              My car for instance keeps the brake lights on, even though the handbrake is applied.

              It applies the handbrake automatically, and releases it automatically, but it keeps the blooming brake lights on blinding anyone behind me... (I haven't checked what it does if I manually trigger the handbrake).

            2. jtaylor Bronze badge

              Re: Start Stop

              "one should engage the hand brake whien stationary"

              I never heard of this before. Sure, I use the hand brake when parked, but not in traffic: not at a stop sign, or a yield (imagine trying to enter a rotary with the parking brake engaged) or in the daily tailback during rush hour.

              People already think I'm nuts for driving standard in southern California traffic. If I started rowing the parking brake every time I pop the clutch in a tailback, there would be a mercy killing.

              1. swm Silver badge

                Re: Start Stop

                In cold regions using the handbrake will result in a frozen brake pad requiring a lot of hammering to release.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: Start Stop

                  Only if you leave it on for an extended period (like overnight). usually there isn't a separate set of pads that the handbrake uses, so it's no different from leaving your foot on the brake in terms of pad behaviour (just less risk in terms of foot cramp/day dreaming/blinding other road users)

                  1. MJI Silver badge

                    Re: Start Stop

                    Shared hand and main brake things.

                    Not had that in years.

                    Current car has a transmission drum brake and 4 discs.

                    Ones prior to that had parking drums inside the rear discs.

                    From my experience not shared since the abolition of rear drum brakes.

                    1. adam 40 Silver badge

                      Re: Start Stop

                      The wife's Astra estate (2009) has one set of pads on the rear disks operated by the handbrake and footbrake.

                      I sometimes stop with the handbrake to clean the rear discs up because we don't use the car very often and I'm too tight to put a new pair on.

                      1. MJI Silver badge

                        Re: Start Stop

                        Those types of calipers are nasty. They are a liability.

                        Eventually they will leak unrepairably.

                        I thought they had been removed from existence but it appears GM are cost cutting.

                        My last GM car had vented rear discs and parking drums

              2. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Start Stop

                The handbrake is a simple device to hold the car still without blinding the motorist behind you with your very high intensity brake lights.

                If you are stopped for any length of time (i.e. probably not a stop sign, but certainly for traffic lights) then use of the handbrake used to be strongly advised. But then driving used to be about making *safe* progress and looking out for other road users.

                Now it seems to an all out arms race to blind everyone else on the road because they've just blinded you with their ridiculously overpowered and point source lights.

                1. David Hicklin

                  Re: Start Stop

                  I tend to sit on the brake pedal for the simple reason that my Astra has a little button + motor for the handbrake. Yes it auto-releases but I consider each application one less of its X lives before something breaks after each Whiirrr - clunk cycle.

                  Besides hill start assist with the foot brake has pretty much killed off the hand brake.

              3. MJI Silver badge

                Re: Start Stop

                Engaging hand brakes

                Do it all the time, saves blinding the person behind you and saves your leg

            3. Stork Silver badge

              Re: Start Stop

              This is something that differs from country to country. In Denmark the handbrake at traffic light was not a thing, never mentioned at driving lessons and not part of the test. We were also allowed to cross our hands at the wheel!

              I only heard of the alternative traditions when I moved to the UK

    3. Ivan Headache

      Re: Start Stop

      We had start/stop in our last car.

      It was good until the battery failed while I was at the head of the queue at some lights.

      Had to get pushed to the side - which was difficult with no power-steering.

      Brittania Rescue came to my aid with a portable power-pack and got me home and we switched off the system. My local dealer couldn't believe the cost of the replacement battery!

      Next door neighbour has (had - he's got rid of it) a van with stop-start. He had to replace the battery twice in one year - that's why he sold it.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Start Stop

        Drove a recent Transit a bit back. The stop-start is invaluable with modern tiny turbo diesels, as they're so darned easy to stall!

      2. David Hicklin

        Re: Start Stop

        When I was growing up we had a guy come round each Saturday in his Volvo estate selling eggs + potatoes (we used to call him the "egg man" obviously)

        His day consisted of stop, switch off - visit a couple of customers, drive maybe 100-150 yards, stop, switch off etc.

        Knackered his battery on a routine schedule.

    4. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: Start Stop

      That is the ultimate problem with Start/Stop. It is an opt-out feature, rather than an opt-in. And driver's are forced to opt-out every time the vehicle starts.

      Give me a configurable opt-in setting in the vehicle configuration. Don't force me in to something I don't want.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Start Stop

        On the BMW's I've had, if you disable the start-stop feature, it is remembered. I turned it off years ago and have never had to turn it off again.

        If I put it into ECO mode, then it is enabled again. Take it out of ECO mode and it is off again; so it remembers the setting.

  2. jmch Silver badge

    Get it later for a discount???

    "...selling cars with dummy chips that it could ultimately replace with real chips, and GM, which has removed features like auto start-stop due to chip shortages"

    If the chips are for 'nice-to-haves', selling cars at a discount without them + adding them back in for free at a later date would keep most customers interested, although cutting into already fine margins for manufacturers. Or maybe, as with start-stop comments above, some customers are happy to get the car without the feature at all, even without a discount.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Get it later for a discount???

      I'd prefer it with the discount.

      I wonder if manufacturers might treat this as a learning opportunity. The "features" range from "I want" through "nice to have" to "won't buy a car with it". If enough customers make retro-fitting an opportunity to select the combination of features they want the manufacturers might continue with it. However realising what's happening would require some intelligence in the marketing departments so it seems unlikely.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: Get it later for a discount???

        I understand that manufacturers have dramatically reduced the number of options (into "packages") because regulations (themselves driven by very reasonable desires to reduce emissions) require that every different combination of options go through separate emissions testing to come up correct emissions numbers for the car as sold.

        I was told that by someone in the motor trade - I don't know whether it is actually true. As a former technical marketing person, I also see that "bundling" drives higher prices as people pay for features they won't use.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Get it later for a discount???

          > "bundling" drives higher prices as people pay for features they won't use

          Definitely. Some features I really don't see anybody ever wanting to pay money for, but by bundling them with something essential (like air-conditioning), they still can bill the sucker good money for them. Tie a bunch of those with every essential/desirable feature and ka-ching! Profit!

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Get it later for a discount???

            Again on my (deliberately) poverty spec Renault: the rear hatch release does not operate from the key fob. The key fob has the button, the button is operational (as indicated by the lights operating when a signal is received, and the hatch is released by a servo klunk driven by the button by the handle.

            Which rather suggests that all the hardware is in place, and this friendly function is actually disabled by software. And that strikes me as annoying.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Re: Get it later for a discount???

              You sure it's not a fault? After all, Renault are internationally renowned for having flawlessly robust and ever-reliable electricals.

            2. jtaylor Bronze badge

              Re: Get it later for a discount???

              "Which rather suggests that all the hardware is in place, and this friendly function is actually disabled by software. And that strikes me as annoying."

              I suspect the same in my base-trim Honda Fit (Jazz). There is exactly one setting for "intermittent wipers." In my car, that setting is a fixed delay ~3 seconds. In the higher trim, it uses the light sensor on the dash to regulate frequency. Both trim lines have the same wiper control, both have the light sensor (used for my automatic headlamps), but only the higher trim uses logic for the wipers.

              I'm not a car nut, but stuff like this makes me want to get in there and fix things.

        2. Persona Silver badge

          Re: Get it later for a discount???

          The positive side of "bundling" is the bundle is something definable e.g. a "TECH pack" so it increases the second hand guide price. The same individual features alone do not impact the guide price which would be just that of the base model.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Get it later for a discount???

        > If enough customers make retro-fitting an opportunity to select the combination of features they want the manufacturers might continue with it.

        Come on, that would only work in a fictitious world where manufacturers actually cared about what potential customers want or need.

        In the real world "features" are mostly excuses to bill the sucker customer. Which is the reason they are only sold in "packages": If you want A, you also need to pay for useless or even unwanted B, C, D, E and F. Through the nose.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    "[integrated combustible engine] "

    What?

    ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine, as opposed to an external combustion engine (e.g. a steam engine).

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: "[integrated combustible engine] WRONG"

      I missed that, thanks for showing it.

      Now how could they think that at all?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: "[integrated combustible engine] WRONG"

        Speel chucker doing what it does best?

        1. Martin Gregorie

          Re: "[integrated combustible engine] WRONG"

          About the last thing I'd want in any vehicle is a >>combustible<< engine.

          Combustion should remain inside an internal combustion engine, which is itself incombustible. It this condition is not met, an external conflagration is the expected outcome.

          1. SuperGeek

            Re: "[integrated combustible engine] WRONG"

            "internal combustion engine, which is itself incombustible."

            Try telling that to Vauxhall Zafira owners in the UK :)

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: "[integrated combustible engine] WRONG"

              And the little Ford engine, that burns too

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

      Or it can stand for

      InCar Entertainment.

      Don't you love acronyms.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

        Given the context I think it was pretty clearly a reference to the archaic power plant of yesteryear. </sarcasm(50%)>

      2. swm Silver badge

        Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

        ICE -> Internal Compiler Error.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

      "In-Circuit Emulation" before it started being bandied around for car engines. (Which were all "petrol/gasoline engines" back in the day. At least for consumer cars.)

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

      Yeah it's fixed -- don't forget to email corrections@theregister.com (or click the corrections link and fill out the form) next time you see a boo-boo, please.

      C.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: "[integrated combustible engine] "

        Given it's location inside a quotation I was assuming that it was a quoted booboo despite the square bracker (It didn't seem like a clarification that elReg needed to add).

  4. MJI Silver badge

    Cheap cars

    Buy a second hand one a few years old, cheaper than new.

    1. Ace2 Bronze badge

      Re: Cheap cars

      Have you seen the prices on used cars lately? They’re nuts.

      1. Matthew 25

        Re: Cheap cars

        But still cheaper than new ones...

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Cheap cars

          https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-10068695/The-year-old-used-cars-selling-cost-new.html

        2. EveryTime

          Re: Cheap cars

          I could sell my 11 month old car for more than I paid, including tax.

          The used car market is not irrational. The wait list for an exact replacement is almost a year, and the list price has increased by over 15%. Alternate replacements have a huge dealer markup.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Cheap cars

        I could sell my 18 year old car for £7k at the moment

        But what would I replace it with?

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Cheap cars

          An even older car for £7k!!!!!

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Cheap cars

          A Bicycle?

          Or nothing...

          Neither are suitable for everyone, but they aren't ridiculous options for many people.

  5. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    China

    You can buy any chip you want in any volume you want from Chinese sellers, but they often add 10x mark up.

    Any sought after part once comes in stock is immediately bought by "brokers".

    1. Must contain letters

      Re: China

      yes ^

      We have 52 weeks delivery quoted on some ordinary FPGAs from the authorised disties. But there are hundreds of thousands of them from the www.buythefpgaswevehoarded.cn guys, as you say at eye watering markups.

      So maybe get back to appropriate technology for some applications? Now, where's my Texas TTL data book....

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: China

        The assumption is that they are selling them. Now if the mark-ups are that much, they are probably not because manufactures cannot afford the overheads.

        One would hope that they will end up having dump the prices as they must have loans to service to have bought them in the first place.

        A bit like the chimps that bought all the toilet rolls and hand sanitiser 18 months ago and then found they could not actually sell them for the 10x profit they thought was reasonable.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: China

          Or they are just keeping the listing active whilst putting the price up to the point noone will buy

      2. EveryTime

        Re: China

        Don't think that they have those chips in stock.

        Most sellers are simply playing the middleman game. They'll take your money and then look for a supplier that can deliver at a lower price. If they can't make a profit, they'll delay hoping that their price will drop. Eventually they'll refund your money. Or not.

        Back in the MOSFET shortage days I repeatedly received counterfeit parts, re-marked lower spec parts that superficially appeared to work. There are plenty of stories of people getting 'factory sealed' reels of more complex parts that were perfectly marked but were something completely different, sometimes even having the wrong number of pins. That evolved into the first few parts on the reel being genuine to pass inspection, with the rest being bogus.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "You need to keep the doors open."

    When driving, i prefer to keep them closed.

  7. Just an old bloke

    I´ve an MGB with zero electronics but loads of electrics, an ancient Jaguar ditto, a 94 XJS with a modicum of simple i/c´s, an early S Type which has some but still too many and a modern car, a Seat Ateca which is loaded to the gunnels with pointless stuff that I never use, it's got a screen like Android on steroids, I can change all sorts of stuff, use cameras and motion sensors and it's all pretty much unused and is at worst a huge distraction when driving.

    I much prefer the classics to drive, no bleeps sirens and bongs, they´re just fast, comfortable, affordable vehicles that due to their age are now very green.

    Modern motors are ridiculous.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      You are me

      and I claim my five pounds!

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Windows

      Given the original Top Gear definition of gearhead, I'll see your MGB and raise you two Alfas and two FIATs.

      Yes, on the right road with the right traffic and the right weather (not to mention the lack of police) my first, an Alfa Spider Veloce, was a blast to drive. OTOH, if it was cold the manual choke could be fiddly and if the weather turned, putting up the manual roof and rolling up all the manual windows was a pain. The worst problem was when an oncoming driver forced me too far over onto the gravel shoulder and the lack of a limited slip diff caused it to spin. Bye bye Alfa.

      Later, real life intervened. I got married and the wife nixed a manual, I got kids and rear seats became a thing. And worst, I needed a car that spent more time in city traffic than on country roads

      I'm currently driving a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which I heartily recommend) with all the bells and whistles and I've come to appreciate them. They don't make the car more fun to drive (except the Sport Mode and the flappy paddle DSG) but they do make it less of a pain to drive in traffic. They also make it safer to drive in traffic.

      If I were rich enough (and had a big enough garage) I'd consider getting an occasional weekend car but I'm not and I'm living with what I have.

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        I'll raise you two TVR's, two V8 Rovers and a Straight 6 Rover, a petrol go kart, a petrol hedge trimmer, a petrol generator (for this winter's power cuts) ....... and the embarrassing Astra estate.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      We have a 1996 Mazda B2500 pickup. The electronics are limited to the digital clock and the radio/cassette.

      Construction not dissimilar to 60es cars: leaf springs and stiff axel at the back, discs and wishbones at the front. Only it is with torsion springs.

      Outside urban areas the big asthmatic diesel is so noisy the radio is pointless.

  8. MJI Silver badge

    Cruise control

    Previous car

    Added cruise with switches and a firmware update

    Current car

    Added cruise with switches

    With DBW cruise is easy, current tractor juice uses EUI so again software.

    The money is in the switches, cruise is about £50 to £100 in bits and extra labour.

  9. ThatOne Silver badge
    Go

    Features are removed you say?

    > if the electronics aren't available, features are simply removed

    It might be the right time for me to buy a new car...

    Such an opportunity won't present itself again I'm afraid. Buy a car which doesn't spy on me, which can't be unlocked by anybody, [...], a car that can simply, safely and comfortably move me and my family from one point to another. Without updating my social media profile or telling me about those amazing shopping opportunities nearby.

  10. Kev99 Silver badge

    I have absolutely NO sympathy for the car makers.Texas Instruments never slowed it's chip production during the lockdowns and it's probably the only fab sitting pretty today. And its fabs are mostly in the US so it doesn't have to wait 8-10 weeks for its chip to make their way across the Pacific and another week or three to clear ports and customs. It was probably the same bean counters who told their bosses to put all their proprietary, confidential and mission critical data on the web because it's free that decided saving a couple pennies was worth the time and lag to send everything overseas. And anyone with any brains knows that a web is just a bunch of holes held together with spider shit.

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