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Automobiles

Global carmakers deliver unfinished cars due to chip shortage

Korean carmakers stick to delays, while global rivals cut features

By Nov 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Global carmakers deliver unfinished cars due to chip shortage
Global carmakers are now delivering unfinished cars, or vehicles without popular convenience features such as USB ports, to appease customers running out of patience with longer wait times.

As the global semiconductor shortage shows no signs of easing, the automakers, from electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla to luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, are choosing to move their cars first to dealerships with fewer options, on promises that the missing parts will be installed later on.

By contrast, South Korean counterparts led by Hyundai and Kia have opted for shipping delays, instead of removing features for on-time delivery. They remain committed to offering as many convenience specifications as possible, depending on customer needs, according to industry sources on Nov. 15.

Both Hyundai and Kia, under the Hyundai Motor Group, recently notified customers of up to a six-week delay in delivering a full-option car, leading customers to choose between waiting longer or going with fewer options.

To shorten the delivery time, drivers can choose a model with basic features.  A customer, who bought the GV70 model this month, has to wait about five months to get the new SUV delivered. But the addition of the sunroof option will delay its delivery by four to six weeks.
Hyundai Motor's GV70
Hyundai Motor's GV70

A buyer of the Grandeur sedan will need to wait for an additional one to two weeks to add the feature of a Bose premium sound system. For the Palisade SUV, the dual-wide sunroof feature will delay the delivery by one to two weeks.

Both GM Korea and Renault Samsung are sticking to delivering full-option cars as well.

"Delivery is getting delayed to two to four months from the previous one to two months, but we are not considering eliminating options, for our customers' convenience," said an GM Korean official. 

A Renault Samsung official said it was being supplied with automotive chips by its headquarters on a stable basis, which ensured smooth shipments of its compact SUV model XM3.

"All our vehicles are being delivered within a month at least, regardless of specifications," he added.

Cars wait for loading on cargo ships
Cars wait for loading on cargo ships

By comparison, General Motors Co., hit hardest by the global chip shortage, cut the popular heated seat and heated steering wheel features from much of its vehicle lineup, including some Chevrolet and GMC trucks. Additionally, wireless charging options for smart devices and HD radio features, which offer improved audio quality, were eliminated.

To tide over the prolonged semiconductor shortage, some global carmakers converted up-to-date specifications into analog features, while others removed back supports from passenger seats from last May.

New Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles have recently been delivered without USB type-C ports, according to automobile industry sources and foreign media.
 
Ford vehicles produced in Turkey are being delivered without satellite navigation systems. For both GM and Ford, during the semiconductor chip shortage about 10,000 pickup trucks have regularly been held up at each of their plants until they could be equipped with chips. But due to longer delivery times, both carmakers chose to stop offering some specifications.

END OF HIGH-TECH WAR

The same goes for luxury carmakers. BMW got rid of touch screen displays, while Mercedes-Benz removed smartphone charging pads and light-emitting diode (LED) headlights from last month. Porsche from last April halted the option for its popular 18-way adjustable seats, which can be rotated 180 degrees.

"Now the automakers have ended the war for high-tech options and are shifting to low-tech-based production systems to ensure stable delivery," said an automobile industry source. "Drivers may feel like they are driving a car made three to five years ago."

Until now, carmakers have focused on eliminating convenience specifications such as customized dashboards, instead of features related to the vehicle's performance and safety. That could become a bigger burden on the carmakers than expected, however.

"If they are missing some convenience features, it will take quite some time and cost to install them later on," said Kim Pil-soo, an automotive engineering professor of Daelim University.

Write to Hyung-kyu Kim and Il-gyu Kim at khk@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article

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