In Automotive School? How the Semiconductor Chip Shortage is Changing Manufacturing

There’s a running joke in the automotive industry that goes, “making semiconductor chips isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complicated.” In fact, the semiconductor chip manufacturing process takes three or four months and requires very large, dust-free facilities. Semiconductor chips serve several purposes within modern vehicles. For one, semiconductor chips are needed to control the electrical current that powers a vehicle’s touch screen. In addition, safety features like backup cameras and airbag deployment systems utilize semiconductor chips. Some vehicles even have them in their engines in order to improve fuel efficiency. As electric vehicles gain popularity, semiconductors are needed more than ever before to help them run. 

While semiconductor chips are an essential part of a vehicle’s functionality, now, many automakers have been forced to halt production due to a shortage of these components. If you’re considering a career in the auto industry, you’re probably curious about how the semiconductor chip shortage is affecting the market. Below, explore the origin of the shortage, its impact and what’s being done about it. 

What Caused the Semiconductor Chip Shortage? 

Like most manufacturing crises those in auto careers are experiencing, the semiconductor chip shortage can be traced back to March 2020, when the pandemic lockdowns began. What was initially supposed to be a couple of weeks of lockdowns became several months, and in Japan, it took an entire year and a half to get manufacturing up and running again after a fire at a major plant. In the fall of 2021, more outbreaks occurred, and in many countries where chips are tested and packaged, vaccination shortages only pushed production back even further. While exacerbated by the pandemic, the semiconductor chip supply chain had already been under some stress due to natural disasters and geopolitical instability. 

Widespread lockdowns in countries where semiconductor chips are produced have contributed to the crises now affecting auto careers.

How Has This Affected Those in the Auto Careers and Their Customers?

Before the shortage began to take effect, automotive dealerships would stock up on around seventy to eighty days’ supply of different models, enabling customers to take their pick and drive off the lot with a new vehicle of their choosing. At the height of the shortage, many auto shops experienced stockpiles as low as ten days’ supply, with a more limited selection for their customers to choose from. As a student in automotive school, however, you won’t need to worry about the semiconductor chip shortage affecting your career negatively. While the predicament sounds concerning, there are already plans in place to ease the effects of the shortage, and the situation is improving. 

If you’re in automotive school, you’ll get to witness efforts within the industry to ramp up manufacturing.

What’s Being Done? 

The automotive industry has acknowledged the need to increase the production of semiconductor chips, especially considering the rising popularity of electric vehicles. Billions of dollars will be spent to ramp up manufacturing. In fact, Sony and TSMC have teamed up to build a new plant in Japan. Though that facility won’t be ready to start mass production until 2024, this is a hopeful step in the right direction, and you can rest assured that the innovation within the automotive industry will provide a solution that best serves your future clients.  

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