Semiconductor shortages continue to hit the motor trade industry just when it needs all the help it can get. Global chip supplies have caused havoc in the vehicle supply chain, impacting on motor trade dealers, showrooms, and manufacturers.
Vehicle manufacturers have had to scale back their entire production which many in the industry think could have been avoided had this situation been foreseen, and appropriate steps taken to avoid it.
The global chip shortage timing could not be any worse as the UK economy looks to try and get back to its feet after spending many months in the pandemic lockdown.
Semiconductors are important pieces of technology used in a vast array of technologies, including electronic components in cars, vans, and lorries. The main function of a semiconductor is to control an electrical current, it is used for switching, amplification, and energy conversion.
With the launch of every new model, vehicles are becoming big computers on wheels offering autonomous driving technologies, using an array of sensors, wi-fi and Bluetooth integration.
Continued innovation in vehicles could soon see electric vehicles (EVs) travel as far as petrol vehicles on just one charge; as semiconductor technology helps to control the powertrain and battery.
Vehicles now contain hundreds of million lines of coding for infotainment and autonomous driving systems, these technologies all rely on software (chips) to get motorists to and from every single destination they embark on.
Although the number of semiconductors used in the motor trade industry represent a small percentage of the number produced globally, these chips comply with the high quality specific technical requirements needed.
They make replacing manual systems with electrical systems possible, increasing vehicle efficiency and reducing emissions, a big deal to everyone involved in the UK car industry, including all its consumers.
The increasing need for safety and driver assistance systems in vehicles has provided a niche market for semiconductors, in some cases reducing the cost of car insurance premiums. Intelligent functions such as cameras, blind-spot detection, cruise control, lane assist, and emergency braking systems are all made possible through the integration of semiconductor technologies.
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In the new age of autonomous driving, the emphasis is clearly moving from driving experience to rider experience, meaning more and more sophisticated semiconductor devices will be required to make further enhancements possible.
No doubt questions will be asked about the resilience of the motor trade supply chains and manufacturers most impacted by the global chip shortage, such as, could it have been avoided regardless of COVID-19?
Despite economic uncertainties throughout the pandemic, the new economic outlook meant drivers would consider purchasing new vehicles sooner rather than later as spending on holidays and other luxury items are still problematic.
No doubt lessons will be learnt in company boardrooms around the country as decision makers look to ensure the supply chain hold up does not cause the same disruption it has over the last 12 months.