As the chip scarcity continues to bit, auto companies are having to take desperate measures to ensure they continue shipping vehicles. Ford has decided to deliver its Ford Explorers missing chips that control non-safety critical features.
According to Automotive News, Ford will later send the chips (obviously when they become available) to the dealer, who will then install them in the cars. The American company hopes this will occur within a year of purchasing the vehicle. This means the rear air-conditioning and heating controls will be non-functional when the buyer drives off the dealership.
A statement obtained by The Verge from Ford’s spokesperson said buyers would be able to control the heating and air conditioning from the front seat. Also, there will be a price reduction for people willing to buy incomplete Explorers.
Ford said it is taking this step to avoid delaying order deliveries, and it is a temporary arrangement. But new sources claim Ford simply wants to move the partially-built vehicles accumulating and clogging up its factories. This makes sense as pictures have shown unusually many Ford Broncos in Ford’s Michigan assembly plant. They were covered in snow as they awaited chip installation.
The company was thinking of shipping partially built cars that would not be drivable but decided against it. It would have required dealership technicians to add finishing touches to the cars before buyers took delivery. It would have been an unusual way to sell cars because Ford would not be able to record it as a sale until the car was ready for driving. “Customers can see a vehicle on their dealer’s lot and when the component (that requires a semiconductor chip) is available and installed, the customer can take delivery. This works out in a way that’s positive for everybody,” the company spokesperson said at the time. “The customer doesn’t wait for the truck to get shipped. This allows for another quality inspection after a vehicle has left the factory.”
The Explorer is not the only Ford model having chips problems. The shortage affects the popular F-150 pickup trucks too, and Ford has had to cut production targets twice, the last time being this month. Customers have been given the option to get the truck without automatic start-stop, a feature that automatically stops the engine when the car comes to a complete halt. Ford offered affected owners $50 credit as compensation.
If it is any consolation, Ford’s competitors are having similar issues. For example, GM decided to give up secondary features like wireless charging, HD radios, and a module that helps some pickup trucks manage fuel more efficiently. GM’s Escalade shipped without hands-free driving to conserve chips.
Tesla, too, sold some models with missing USB ports which would be installed later. However, Tesla has had more success navigating the chip scarcity as it was able to reconfigure its software to work on older chips quickly.
And over in Germany, BMW has been shipping cars sans touchscreen.