Big picture: The continued shortage of microcircuits has caused so many problems for the auto industry that two of Detroit’s biggest names have decided to go into the development of microcircuits. While the initial focus is on strengthening ties with existing chip makers to tackle short-term shortages, Ford hopes to eventually improve supply and achieve independence through its own semiconductor development in the future.
There have been several reports this year of new cars piling up in dealerships and parking lots, all seemingly roadworthy but ultimately unusable by consumers because the manufacturer could not deliver the chip in time. Others, meanwhile, were forced to sell cars without functional touchscreens.
Among American automakers, Ford was one of the hardest hit by the ongoing chip crisis, which saw the release of tens of thousands of F-150 pickups. conglomeration on the Kentucky Freeway. Now, WSJ reports that the automaker is working with General Motors on chip development to reduce supply constraints and gain greater control over this critical component.
Ford, which recently hired Apple’s auto project leader, has ramped up its plans to build electric vehicles, and its recently announced chip development partnership with GlobalFoundries has the potential to facilitate future car production.
Chuck Gray, Ford vice president of embedded software and vehicle controls, says the agreement is in part to improve short-term supply and that the company will work with GlobalFoundries to develop higher-level chips for future vehicles.
GM, meanwhile, has also entered into agreements with Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductors to manufacture microcircuits. The automaker estimates that demand for semiconductors will double in the next few years and says it plans to develop three main chip families with similar architectures to increase the quantity and quality of semiconductors.
It will be interesting to see if automakers can develop a more vertical approach to car production, similar to Tesla in the future, and possibly reduce the chip crisis, which is expected to last several more years.