The chip shortage plaguing automakers may be getting worse. Ford says it plans to ship some Explorer SUVs without the rear seat temperature controls because of the shortage of computer chips.
Consumers who purchase one of these vehicles will receive an unspecified price break, Ford said.
The company said it’s taking this step as a way to get more of its vehicles onto dealer lots and alleviate the new vehicle shortage that has persisted since mid-2020. The vehicles without rear seat controls will be standard in all other respects, with full temperature controls in the dashboard.
Ford said its only other alternative was to park the unfinished vehicles and wait. That’s what most manufacturers did last year, resulting in 11.3 million fewer new cars and trucks on the market because of the shortage of computer chips.
“There’s no clear path to solving this yet,” Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, told ConsumerAffairs. “If anything, the last two or three weeks suggest it could get worse before it gets better.”
The Ukraine factor
The recent trouble that the automotive industry is facing is being caused by the war in Ukraine. While that country does not produce computer chips, it does supply half of the world’s neon gas, which is used in semiconductor production. Gas production facilities in Ukraine have closed amid the Russian invasion.
With no end to the chip shortage in sight, other automakers could adopt Ford’s model by finishing cars and trucks that lack non-critical functions. Ford previously took that step with its best-selling F-150 pickup.
Last year, Ford gave buyers the option of purchasing an F-150 without a feature called automatic stop-start, which turns off the entire when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. To compensate buyers, the automaker offered a $50 credit.
Previously, General Motors eliminated wireless device charging on some models and some infotainment features that require computer chips.