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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #94: Crunching automakers, hidden wafers ... and terrified dealers | Hagerty Media

What is good news for Malaysia, bad news for quarantine enthusiasts, and a nightmare for automakers? Why, it's the 200-millimeter wafer! Which isn't something you eat, but rather part of the way that computer chips are "grown."
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-94-crunching-automakers-hi...
27 REPLIES 27
ctaarman
Pit Crew

It is impossible to have a profit margin of greater than 100%. What the author likely means is the markup - the difference between cost and sell price. For example, if it costs you $40 and you sell it for $100 that's a 150% markup but only 60% profit margin (simplistically). Electronics devices such as TV's have very low margins - sometimes 1%-2% but that is not the margin on electronic parts inside. Most importantly in electronics is unit volumes. A car model might sell 100K units, whereas one might make 50 million TVs of a particular model. So the higher volume is much more attractive to the electronic components manufacturer.

But more importantly, that TV is a throw away item after a few short years. No need to keep many electronics parts around. However a car should be different, but we are seeing it is not. The dilemma is that as those electronics manufacturing lines go to higher densities, they no longer make the old parts. And the parts they do make aren't military spec - they are consumer spec designed to last for only a few years. So if your auto manufacturer didn't buy electronic spare parts to sell for the long term, you are out of luck if, for example, your body control module fails in year ten. Your car is inoperable and ready for the scrap heap even if it only has 30,000 miles on it, unless you can find a used part in a salvage yard ( if any of those still work).

The problem is made more acute by the use of specialized integrated circuits, where there is little or no other market for the same devices outside of autos. This is by far the most compelling reason that we may not see cars from the late 1990's or 2000's on the classic scene in the long term. As their electronics age out, they simply won't run any more without the availability of replacement electronics. The problem is already happening with models of some of the lower volume cars of this time period. I haven't seen any creative aftermarket solution, likely because the parts are so specialized. If autos used generic processors there would be a chance of an aftermarket answer, but with these specialized silicon integrated circuits, there is far less a chance of a solution.
Bmike
Intermediate Driver

That's why I like my '71 bug. I can fix it with parts from my lawnmower.
Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

Good on you Bmike, I'm with you there, with my old Morgan, if it fails it is so "agricultural" that diagnosis is simple, and parts repairable, or relatively cheaply available.
MoparMarq
Intermediate Driver

Also why Factory Service Manuals are handy; so a work-around can be accomplished if some ridiculous "brake light bulb failure module" or other nuisance piece of electronics can be bypassed after its own failure.
SlowJoeCrow
Pit Crew

I predict a cottage industry of FPGA based replacements for cars that are sufficiently valuable and possibly some generic control modules along the lines of a more sophisticated Megasquirt.
spoom
Technician

Could be worse, Jack. If new automobiles contained stories about Hunter Biden there would never be another new car.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

We might get half-ton pickups, though: Chevrolet C-10 "For The Big Guy"
spoom
Technician

But no more new trucks/cars under my scenario 🤣😂

Flashman
Detailer

It's already happened for PPE like N-95 masks and COVID-19 vaccines. Maybe that's the silver lining in this mess, that countries as well as companies will pay closer attention to the weak links in their supply chains.
Flashman
Detailer

I love how you made a verb out of a jerk.
motorsledge
Pit Crew

I just knew, in my small mind, that these electronics were going to be a double edged sword. Now that Edelbrock is shuttering it's original LA enterprise, I think it may be apropos to start hoarding small and big block Ford and Chevy V8 parts, such as intakes, long tube headers, blocks, heads, cams, carbs, distributors, valvetrains, etc., before the ten dollar a gallon juice and a Mad Max virtual reality manifests itself in the puppet clown show we got goin on....might want to grab a couple of blowers, too, for of posterity's sake !
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

You'll take my Roots blower from my just-burned dead hands!
Swamibob
Detailer

I've been keeping that stuff for years. Now you tell me I'm being smart. Used to be I was just another gearhead... Now I'm smart. 🙂
topside
Intermediate Driver

"Electronic face huggers" : brilliant, concise, and perfect for those who can visualize the reference and its end result...

Contemporary electronics & computing are a double-edged sword, being inscrutable and easily manipulated for whatever hidden, dystopian purpose a designer or provider might wish. "Psst, kid, thh 1st one is free..."
Rider79
Advanced Driver

"Electronic face huggers"...a reference to "Alien"?
TRdelux
Intermediate Driver

Jack, You are simply deplorable!
win59
Intermediate Driver

Jack at his best!
Thank You.
hyperv6
Instructor

I wager this was no accident.

China and their associated companies and countries have been attacking and probing our economy, industry and even a California Congressman now and then for a while.

Our present president last year said we have nothing to fear from China and now says the will eat our lunch? Yet he is willing to cave to their controls WHO and Paris Accord where they hold an advantage.

Our problems are much larger than chips. We have a monster in the east that appears to be compromising our country and government. While many kept pointing to Russia China was all along pulling an end around.

To be honest I see celebrities, millionaires, athletes, politicians of both parties, industrialists and more all towing the line for China.

I generally am not a conspiracy guy but I fully believe there is a move to a global government and China will play a major role in it. To get there we need to be weakened. Our last president like him or not was not in on this and got in their way. They are now making sure he or anyone else will not get in their way. If they do they will be destroyed in the new cancel culture.

If this deal was only about chips we can get past this but it is much bigger than that I am afraid.
mrdale14424
New Driver

To the Hagerty editors & moderators; So now conspiracy politics is OK Hagerty discussion as posted below & allowed to stand for many days?
If so, then this is the end of my following Hagerty. You open this Pandora's Box at your own peril.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

What's upsetting you? I'll take a look.

SJacobT
Intermediate Driver

I feel like a Vintage Truck vibe suits Hagerty better than the Epoch Times, but all the snowflakes at their opposite poles need safe spaces - I get the New Yorker, too.
Swamibob
Detailer

Yawn...
SlowJoeCrow
Pit Crew

This raises the question of why haven't some of these chips been moved to 300mm wafers? The technology is mature enough that there are some obsolete 65nm fabs out there and the cost of moving to a bigger wafer is offset by having far more parts per wafer since 300mm wafer has over twice the surface of a 200mm wafer
MaverickNutron
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for the Buggles "ear worm" JB...THAT'LL be stuck in my head for DAYS!

"Don’t worry. I’m sure it’s all going to be fine." -I'm soooo relieved to hear that we'll be okay...

*WINK-WINK*
CJinSD
Detailer

Climate change is a lie told to serve China our economy and eventually our heads.
brb
Detailer

Good article. People would be far more concerned if this shortage had impacted their face huggers.
Spuds
Detailer

I think the future will be...no problem,I can fix that with an Arduino,three bucks.Thats how the young folks in my family talk.