All For The Want Of A Chip……..

Within hours of birth and almost always after death, we go for a ride in a vehicle, be it a car, truck or glorified station wagon with a velvet lined cargo area. America loves cars and guns and both have been severely impacted by Covid, the little virus that has disrupted supply chains world wide. Guns need ammunition, in short supply, and cars need chips, also in short supply. It is in the news and on our tongues, “chips” but do we understand what is happening? I can help here…….

Chips are simply tiny little wafers that perform complicated electrical transactions at damned near the speed of light. The picture below is of a chip, or more appropriately semiconductor. This is why your local new car dealer is wringing his hands and opening a fruit stand on his vacant lot while hyping his inventory of used trucks that are bringing new truck prices. Can’t find that new Silverado you have been waiting on? Here take a couple of these vine ripened beauties home and make yourself a nice BLT. He’ll even toss in a bag of chips made from potatoes, they are in abundance. We can walk on the moon, but can’t build a chip, some of which are damned near microscopic in size. Sure we can, but our “global” economy has us by the…well, walnuts.

The chip!

Chips are manufactured in Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and here. Ah, but each country produces a certain kind of chip and all are dependent on one another to come up with the thimble full of these little miracles to make today’s vehicles run. It ain’t your daddy’s old Buick with a few fuses and relays, folks, our vehicles are damned complicated. Covid has seriously interrupted production in virtually every country that makes these things, and relief isn’t likely until early 2022 at best. Flu Siew Hai Wong, the head of the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association, says until the virus let’s workers return to the factories, chips are going to be in very short supply. New car sales in America are down 18% in August alone, selling at the slowest rate since 2011. Used car prices are climbing like homesick angels, pushed up by an increase of 8% in new car prices, when you can find them, this year! The average new car transaction price this year is $42,736.00. That is a big number.

Stellantis, (Chrysler to us old road dogs) is now installing old school analog speedos in some of their cars to avoid using a precious chip. Ah the good old days of a speedo that ticked between a couple of MPH as you hurtled down the super slab. I certainly hope my new Ram heavy came in early enough to avoid having chips replaced by rubber bands and Velcro. Who has been impacted by the shortage of chips? Every manufacturer, however some more than others. If you have a hankering for a new Chevrolet, Ford Bronco Sport or F-150, Mustang, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Mercedes C-class, Mini Cooper, BMW X-1 or X-2, Nissan, Subaru Ascent or Outback, you could be in trouble. Make that ARE in trouble.

As a final note. Are you proud of your Detroit born and bred hauler? Gonna keep those American dollars at home where they belong? Don’t check into the origin of the parts that comprise your latest chariot to freedom. Ain’t no such thing as an All American vehicle these days. The UAW is alive and well down in Saltillo, Mexico where my latest behemoth was manufactured. Economy of production and the bottom line drive the cost of vehicles, always has and always will, so production is a multi-national thing. When old Johnny Cash sang “One Piece at a Time”, he had no idea the pieces would be coming from all over the world in just a few years.

When you reach the age of my contemporaries, waiting until next year may be a dicey option. For now, keep circling your dealers lot and be prepared to pay MSRP, or better, for your next new car smell. Now you know the rest of the story!

Have a great weekend!

SR

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