back to article US car industry leads the world in production cuts over chip shortages

As the chip shortage rolls on, automakers are still hitting the brakes on production, cutting 180,000 vehicles from production worldwide this week alone. Nearly 100,400 of them are being eliminated from plants in North America, Automotive News reported, based on data from AutoForecast Solutions (AFS). This week's production …

  1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Here's an idea -

    Get rid of the touchscreen monstrosity in the dash and go back to regular controls. That'll save a whole stack of semiconductors. The last 3 new cars I bought had this junk and the center stack was nothing but trouble in all 3. I can either buy another 20 new cars over the next 40 years that don't have the touchscreen garbage, or I will just buy a pre-touchscreen car and keep it going the next 40 years. Your choice, car builders. This is a customer who normally buys a new car every 2-3 years threatening to not spend with you anymore, and I'm getting to replace my 2021 model next year.

    1. Denarius

      Re: Here's an idea -

      agreed. Hearing this sort of comment among all ages in my backwater, even by residents of Oz crapital. As it is I want to upgrade current vehicle and not wanting anything less than 10 years old which seems to be optimum. Enough electronics for great engine and transmission management, none for attention hogging audio or navigation controls,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an idea -

      I've just got that!

      There were 3-4 major manufacturers offering the full set of features..... birdview camera, ADAS (especially anti collision warning, I don't care about lane departure warnings), and I also added TPMS and engine diagnostics, just because I could, not that I've ever needed or used those before. It has CAN bus integration and can run the aircon from the touch screen even.

      I specifically chose a system with the 360 birdview camera integrated so I could use the 3D mode with viewing angle set on the touch screen, but they do sell a physical button cluster aswell (which connects via bluetooth and has a CR2032 in the back!).

      ALL THE OPTIONS WERE CHINESE. None are American.

      One (Teyes) is Chinese kit, rebadged by a Russian company, pretending to be an Australian company, charging 3x the price for a fancy car animation on a home screen! Glad they couldn't sell me it and I searched and realized I was looking at a Russian OEM, or I wouldn't have found the original suppliers of their kit.

      Total kit cost me less than $300.

      So its funny how I can buy the after market systems dirt cheap, and yet US makers cannot get their production in line. It's almost as if they're not selling enough cars and blaming chip shortages, when the real problem is they're not competing in the world.

      ... and they have to compete. Throwing money at chip makers will just make them fail faster and demand more and more easy money. And it will inevitably mean other industries (like cars) will want a slice of the easy money too, making them too fail.

      I'm expecting US telcos to invent some "ooohhh we can't install broadband because of lack of chips, give us more free money...." bullshit soon too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an idea -

      "Smithers! Make ready my motor-carriage, toot sweet!"

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea -

        I can't speak for the quality of the horn on Burns's motor carriage, but perhaps you meant "tout suite"?

        The original phrase is actually "tout de suite" (literally "all in a row", but figuratively used for "right now"), but it's been corrupted into an English idiom, so few English speakers include the "de". But it would be nice if for a while we could at least spell the remaining words as they are in French.

        And while modern cars have many advantages over earlier generations, touchscreens are an abomination.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Here's an idea -

          FFS Relax. It was a joke. A la <<Only Fools & Horses>>.

          Murky Buckets.

          C'est clair les vieux ont des problèmes avec les bagnols neufs.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Colin Wilson 2 - Apple have got this right!

            Bagnoles, as in "Bagnoles de l'Orne"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Headmaster

              Re: Colin Wilson 2 - Apple have got this right!

              A fair correction.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an idea -

      Current car has a touchscreen, but tactile controls as well.

      Recently had a hire care (a SEAT) and everything was controlled by touchscreen. Want to change heater fan speed? Poke around for the correct menu, then prod a button multiple times. Several seconds spent looking at the screen instead of the road. Madness.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea -

        Which is why my last car was decidedly poverty spec... it doesn't come with all the crap. Tactile memory for the radio and heater/aircon buttons. Messing around with a touch screen is and was a joke from day one.

      2. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea -

        It may have had voice activation too. If so no need to take your eyes of the road: just press the "voice" button on the steering wheel and say "blower level 3" or "increase fan speed" though I would be more inclined to say "set temperature to 19".

        A car with just a touch screen and no buttons needs good voice command processing, and that needs chips.

        1. Gob Smacked
          FAIL

          Re: Here's an idea -

          How about just pressing 1 button instead without thinking... take's just miiliseconds and you keep the attention where it needs to be

          Really, voice controls in a car are only taking away road attendance - in all cases as far as I can see (does it work this time...?). Worst decision ever...

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Here's an idea -

            Especially since it will likely be Android or similar controlled and you'll have to say "Hello Google" or "Hello (name of manufacturer)" to get it's attention. Then there's all the times I'm listening to audio books or Radio 4 or other speech based programs and it triggers the damned car speech recognition. Luckily, my car only has a small amount of voice control which has a steering wheel button to trigger and doesn't actually do anything I can't do quicker with a manual control anyway, so I never use it :-) But I can imagine current or future cars being all voice and/or touch screen only.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea -

          IMO, voice input is just behind touchscreens in the Gallery of Terrible Human-Interface Ideas.

          I remember when BMW came out with its accursed iDrive control-knob idiocy twenty-odd years ago and it was roundly panned by reviewers. Touchscreens and voice control are even worse ideas. Automakers refuse to learn.

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: everything was controlled by touchscreen.

        That is a clear case of

        THE TESLA DISEASE

        It seems to be spreading rapidly and it looks like there is no cure.

      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea -

        Linux car, only has a CLI.

        To change temperature just cat 20 > /proc/heater or to set it permanently just edit /etc/heater.conf and restart systemd heaterctl

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea -

          "Linux car, only has a CLI."

          Linux car. Comes with a range of controls and layouts that can be changed as the mood suits you for no additional cost. FTFY :-)

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea -

          echo 20, not cat 20. Geez.

          And obviously no automobile should be running systemd. That's your problem.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: Here's an idea -

            and what do you use for the GUI?

            E16 or E17?

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Here's an idea -

            No it's 'cat 20' cos obviously it uses kelvin but in units where 0K is -127 and 0 is 0C so you just use this other tool to generate a file with the value closest to 20C

    5. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea -

      I want to work the enviro controls by feel, not by look-at-a-screen-and-touch-it. The by-feel mode lets me keep my eyes where they belong: on the road.

      One thing I could do with my manual-enviro-controls 1983 Dodge Omni, but not with any current vehicle, was getting hot air blowing on my lower body, simultaneously with cold air blowing in my face.

    6. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea -

      But but but... it would make it much more difficult to car makers to sell you a monthly subscription to enable you to control the car heater!

    7. jmch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Here's an idea -

      Hear, hear!!!

      I've nothing against having a screen big enough to be easily read, but all essential information should go on the part the driver can see through the steering wheel, and all controls should be actual buttons/knobs/levers with tactile feedback which can therefore be operated without having to look. Besides that the rotary knob + button is FAR easier than a touchscreen control even if you can focus your full attention on the screen!!

    8. Smirnov

      Re: Here's an idea -

      Unfortunately the reality is that it's not the highly integrated chips used for entertainment system which are the problem, the shortage is with chips which go into ECUs and which are all built on older, larger processes.

    9. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea -

      Yep, the electronics in my older 2006 motor were a lot more reliable and less complex than a 2017 one.

      They certainly don't offer any extra functionality either. The older car only went because of lack of availability of certain mechanical parts.

      Of course, we have to prop up the sales of new vehicles rather than maintain old ones...?

    10. Xalran

      Re: Here's an idea -

      I don't know but...

      30 years ago the only electronic in cars was in the radio-tape... and most of the time it was discrete components not chips.

      Rolling back some of the digical car idiocy that was created during the last 30ish years would probably help a lot reduce the if not get rid of the chip shortage in car industry.

      I know it can't be rolled back completely.... you need electronics in the modern engine due to how they were designed to *cheat*... err meet the pollution requirements. ( and it was cheaper to put some electronics than to completely redesign the engines ), but do the electric window needs an chip control ? ( when a simple button can do it ) doe example ?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea -

        Older than that, I fear: Fiat used ECUs from the mid-eighties and I'm the other big names did too, just to meet pollution requirements.

        Electric windows are an interesting one: there has to be some mechanism that stops the window when Junior sticks his head in it and presses the button. Though one could think of it as evolution in action...

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Power Windows

          As a 10-year-old I was looking under the dash of our neighbor's 1960s Ford Thunderbird, and discovered the window motors had 20-amp fuses. That scared the crap out of me, and henceforth, when I was riding in their car, I never stuck any part of my body out the window. Never.

  2. Kev99 Silver badge

    I can understand needing some sort of computer oversight for ABS and engine management, but radios, reat seat controls, windows, HVAC, etc? My lands, how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls, crank windows, manual seats, et cetera.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "crank windows, manual seats"

      I'm pretty sure it's possible to have electric windows and electrically moving seats without needing any chips. It's just a motor actuated by a switch, surely no 'logic' needed!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        to have electric windows and electrically moving seats without needing any chips.

        Sure, why not? Who needs things like torque sensing to make sure your toddler's arm isn't severed off when it ends up being in the closing window's path, or comfort functions like on-top closure and other stuff.

        Just don't be surprised when no-one really wants your overly simplistic solution, aside from the fact that a discrete (non-computerized) solution is usually more expensive to build and manufacture (and often also less reliable).

        But hey, great yelling-at-cloud-style rant!

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: to have electric windows and electrically moving seats without needing any chips.

          Electric windows have been a feature of cars for more than 50 years. And while there have been a handful of tragic child accidents in that time, there are simple design fixes that can pretty much eliminate the danger.

          Most obvious, limit the force applied to the window. Make sure the windows only have power when the ignition is on. And make the control either recessed, or take the form of a switch that has to be pushed up to close the window, down to open it.

          None of these things requires a control chip.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: to have electric windows and electrically moving seats without needing any chips.

            Also, in the past, pre-chippery based controls, you had to press or pull the button constantly while it was moving. The sound of the child screaming would act as a signal to release the button and stop the window moving :-)

            Modern electric windows generally keep moving on the chosen direction if you push or pull the button for more than a second or so and so need some kind of feedback mechanism so as not to cut off a childs arm or head.

      2. Xalran

        yes, simple circuit :

        a switch for up/down for the human usage, two actuator switches to open the circuit once the end has been reached, the human will then know it's time to put back the human usage switch to neutral.

        No electronics involved just bits of wire.

        The same goes for the electrically adjusting seat curcuits.

        that can also be done for the mirrors, the optional opening roof, the back window thawing thingie, and probably a few more things I didn't think of.

        The only things that can't avoid chips in a car right now are :

        - the engine, because it was designed to be chip controlled to meet the green requirements ( or cheat on them ), and using a chip was cheaper than actually designing a new engine from scratch to meet them without chips in it.

        - the radio/multimedia monster... becausse you can't avoid chip with DAB/RDS ( and that's just for the radio side )

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          re: No electronics involved just bits of wire.

          That's the reason for the chips.

          A copper wire circuit from every control, through the body to the steering wheel and then to the battery is a lot of copper and a lot connectors

          A single power wire and a thin canbus cable running around the car is a lot cheaper, even with a canbus switch at each gadget

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "using a chip was cheaper than actually designing a new engine from scratch to meet them without chips in it"

          Unless you're running a single speed, single load engine, it's virtually impossible to meet current requirements without chippery - and even then, chippery helps deal with mechanical drift that's inevitable when things wear

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls

      We survived the same way people did survive (or not) before we had today's medicines, some did fine and other who would be fine with today's medicine just died.

      The reality is that, outside of rose-tinted views of yesteryear, cars were a lot less reliable back then when everything was mechanical, while modern cars last longer and, on average, fail a lot less often than their old counterparts. On top of that, modern cars offer much better rides, better interior quality, and more comfort features, on top of better fuel economy and vastly improved safety.

      There were some really great cars back in the day but no way I would exchange my modern car for any of them as a daily driver.

      I do agree, though, regarding the excessively sized touch screens that seem to be in more and more new car models, often mounted in a way similar to gluing a large iPad on the center stack. BEVs seem to be particularly badly affected by this nonsense.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls

        On top of that, modern cars offer much better rides, better interior quality, and more comfort features, on top of better fuel economy and vastly improved safety.

        There were some really great cars back in the day but no way I would exchange my modern car for any of them as a daily driver.

        Just to note; a Morris Minor from like 1960 can do ~45mpg on a petrol engine, relative to (marketing figures of ) around 55 MPG on a modern car.

        A diesel car from ~2000 will have the same fuel efficiency as a car from today and will (depending on spec) still have ABS, cruise control, heated seats, reverse parking sensors as well as equivalent ride comfort etc. Missing features are lane keeping cruise control and similar things, which you may or may not miss!

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls

          a Morris Minor from like 1960 can do ~45mpg on a petrol engine

          Sure. And a 1986 Honda Civic Coupe HF with Honda's CVCC engine could get 50+ MPG, and that's with (smaller) US gallons.

          The problem with modern cars is that automakers have used increases in engine efficiency to give cars more power. A 2022 Honda Civic is rated at 158 HP (what's that, about 118 kW?), which is fairly ridiculous, even given the increased weight. A 2022 Civic comes in at about 50% heavier than the 1986 one, at a first approximation, but has more than twice the power.

          Most cars are absurdly overpowered these days. Sure, there are cases where you want some extra power, for example when you're towing a trailer; but even then they're excessive. My 2014 Volvo wagon is rated at about twice the power of my 1992 Toyota truck, but they have almost the same tow rating.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls

            That extra weight in vehicles is a direct result of safety requirements

            You very seriously don't want to be in any kind of impact exceeding 7-10mph in the Morrie and the Honda - whilst better - would only score 1 star today even if it got 4 stars in 1986

            The crash test videos over the years make interesting (and alarming!) viewing

            WRT "overpowered", superminis proved a long time ago there was very little difference between consumption on similar cycles using larger engines, vs engine durability and many modern engines might HAVE ratings which appear ridiculously large but they're often 2-3 minute ratings, not continuous duty and are results of changes such as ultra low friction bore coatings on the same engine as previously sold

            One of the tricks used is having a larger lightly loaded engine to improve emissions performance under normal operation without compromising milage but switching it to "full bore" mode when the loud pedal is presed hard. This is because smaller engines that were favoured for a while in the 2000s start putting out particle emissions comparable with diesels under heavy load and couldn't meet NOX/CO _and_ PM10 emissions requirements. It becomes enlarge the engine that or install a DPF in the tailpipe of a petrol engine with the attendant issues that come with it

            In the old days you could only tune an engine statically for power or economy (or something in between). These days, ECUs allow both in the same package

            1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: how did we ever survive with cable actuated HVAC controls

              I am not sure that the fact you can load an orignal Mini in the truck of the current iteration has anything to do with safety requirements...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody is in a big rush when profit per car is at an all time high

    Forced scarcity is putting cash in the palm of everybody up the supply chain. They can read the tea leaves, as their peers at the oil and power companies squeeze the public, and regulators and the fed squeeze business, they have to expect a slowdown at this point, why bend over backwards when they are sitting on inventory and charging well over list on most vehicles?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Nobody is in a big rush when profit per car is at an all time high

      Yeah. And that will have a corresponding effect on used vehicles, unfortunately.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember when

    Dad, did they really used to make cars without any integrated circuits?

    Yes son, granddad’s car even had a crank handle. The cable manufacturers were King back then.

    1. Xalran

      Re: Remember when

      and some of those crank handle equipped cars didn't even have any battery...

      And even better, since most of the cars were very light ( 3 or 4 strong men could lift them ), they had a small engine with a fuel economy that's impossible to replicate nowadays ( and weren't as polluting as people think )

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Remember when

        And without airbags or crumple zone or deformable interiors you also saved the co2 emissions from an ambulance after a crash, they just hosed the driver out before crushing it.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Remember when

          Would you even need all that for a town runabout in, say, Wales with a blanket 20mph speed limit? Maybe there's a market for "geofenced" little cheap eco runabouts there :-)

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Remember when

      This ad resume it all I think

      Le Laitier

  5. aldolo

    are they lyeing?

    production cut with strong demand would drive prices to the roof. is this the case? in my opinion they are matching the real demand with the excuse of chip shortage.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: are they lyeing?

      Maybe, but demand is higher than production. If you want to buy a new car, the lead time is far longer than normal. I looked at our company employee salary sacrifice scheme to lease a car[*]. The website has a special search filter to show only cars available between "now" and 3 months. That eliminated quite a few models from the list because the lead time is 6 months+, some over a year.

      * too expensive, even after the tax breaks, generic leasing worked out about the same, typical of government backed schemes.

  6. Boo Radley

    Chip Shortage & Used Cars

    In January and February 2021 I was shopping for a particular trim on a used Honda Civic, preferably a 2015 or 2016 model. I found the perfect car, the right options, color, and price, at a dealer in Houston, about 2 hours away. By the time I got there, it had been sold, to another dealer, who raised the asking price by 20%. It still sold quickly. Now the same year and model is selling for 40 to 50% more than the price 18 months ago. The chip shortage has a huge trickle-down effect on used car prices.

    I quit car shopping last summer, as I didn't want to pay a significant markup on a car that might suddenly decrease in value by 60 to 80 percent once the chip issue sorts itself. Instead, I'll just pay the occasional, reasonable maintenance expenses on my 19 year old Ford F150. It only has 166,000 miles on it, it runs great, and almost never needs any maintenance other than oil. It ain't pretty any more, gets relatively poor gas mileage, but is dirt cheap on a per mile basis.

    Plus, I have my taxi available for personal use if the truck does break down.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Chip Shortage & Used Cars

      "It only has 166,000 miles on it"

      Once upon a time that kind of milage was reserved for diesel mercedes and American cars were junk by 100,000

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Chip Shortage & Used Cars

        Until they optimized the production process and were able to make cars that were junk direct from the factory

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like