Just like the broader automotive industry, the ongoing global microchip shortage has had a profound impact on General Motors, forcing the automaker to cut production and reduce features across its lineup. Now, The General is seeking to curb the effects of the chip shortage with its own family of mircocontrollers.
During an investor conference earlier today, General Motors President Mark Reuss stated that GM was working with seven major microchip suppliers to develop three new microcontroller families in order to reduce the complexity and cost involved in implementing automobile features, as well as create a more stable source of these vital components. Reuss listed the supplier partners as including Qualcomm, STM, TSMC, Renesas, ON Semi, NXP, and Infineon. Reuss also said that the investment into the new microcontroller families would primarily “flow to the U.S. and Canada.”
Reuss stated that automotive semiconductor requirements are expected to more than double in the next few years as electric vehicles and next-generation vehicle technologies (including autonomous features like the GM Super Cruise) begin to hit the market. As such, securing a stable source of volume components for these vehicles and features is critical.
However, while many General Motors vehicles currently use a wealth of different chips for these features, the proposed families of microcontrollers will help to consolidate the various functions. Reuss stated that the new microcontrollers will be built in high volume, with as much as 10 million units annually for just one of the three microcontroller families as General Motors works to “develop an ecosystem that is much more resilient, more scalable and always there to meet our needs.” It is estimated that the three new microcontroller families will reduce the number of unique chips by as much as 95 percent.
Throughout the 2021 calendar year, General Motors has worked to combat the effects of the global microchip shortage, cutting production and features across its lineup, with the latest feature reduction affecting heated seats, ventilated seats, and heated steering wheels for a variety of GM crossovers, SUVs, and pickups.