Automakers Cut These Tech Features to Cope with the Chip Shortage

Andrew Koole
Jan 19, 2022 · 3 min read
Anyone paying attention to the news this year is well aware by now of the microchip shortage plaguing the economy and slowing the production of new vehicles. Even if you avoided news feeds, the emptiness of your local car lot will show you its effect on the auto industry.
Much has been made of the chip shortage and its ongoing ramifications on the economy, but the specific details are often overshadowed by coverage of the bigger picture. Production cuts and factory closures make for flashier headlines than lost tech features.
But automakers adjusted on a number of fronts to weather the chip shortage, and cutting features was one of them. At least eight manufacturers removed features from models or from their fleets altogether to leave more chips available for other components and cars.
A person driving in their car about to use the infotainment screen.
Automakers are in a tough position because of chip shortages.

What features didn’t make the cut in 2021?

Every automaker in the world had to strategize how to make it through this year’s chip shortage, and many took a multi-pronged approach. Temporary plant closures were paired with top-trim prioritization and delayed launches for new models.
Many of them also removed previously available features from their vehicles, some more successfully than others. 
While brands like BMW and Porsche publicly announced the loss of features like touchscreens and 18-way adjustable seats, Tesla decided to cut USB-C ports and passenger lumbar support without notifying customers, causing predictable backlash.
Car and Driver says Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan also removed features from their vehicles with varying levels of transparency. But by a long shot, the most cluttered cutting floor in the industry was General Motors (GM). 

GM’s tech feature triage

Across all four of its brands, GM cut at least six features from its models throughout the year. And while some have resumed their place, the future of others remains unclear.
Cadillac, for example, recently resumed production of its beloved Super Cruise, a hands-free driver-assist system, after dropping the feature in September. The loss of HD radio from Chevy and GMC pickup trucks, on the other hand, has no announced resume date.  
Many of the auto giant’s feature edits focused on specific brands and models, but wireless charging, V8 cylinder deactivation, and auto stop-start were purged from vehicles in all its nameplates. 
Despite the dropped features, GM managed to weather the chip shortage without too much outrage, thanks to the company’s open communication with customers and the credit vouchers meant it offered to help make up for any disappointment and inconveniences.

Do fewer features mean cheaper car insurance?

The impact of specific features on car insurance can be tricky to calculate, and each component doesn’t influence rates on its own that much. 
But because the vast majority of features cut from vehicles this year have little to no effect on vehicle safety, whatever affect their loss does make will be positive. That said, shopping for car insurance with Jerry is a much easier and more effective way to lower your premiums. 
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