To keep their assembly lines moving, automakers that we’re unable to produce vehicles in the face of the shortage of essential components had to eliminate a number of electronic features.
Everything from heated seats to fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation systems and touchscreen displays has been removed at times.
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In some cases, due to a shortage of sensors, the availability of optional features such as proximity alerts, blind spot monitoring systems, and semi-automated driving aids (ADAS), has been suspended.
Blind spot monitors in cars use radar to detect approaching traffic. (FOX Business/Fox News)
Cadillac and Volkswagen are two of the brands that do not offer blind-spot monitors or other ADAS on certain models. However, the situation is always changing. At the time of publication, both automakers were unable to provide an update on availability.
“Automakers are in a tight place when the materials aren’t available for some safety technology,” Jessica Cicchino (Vice President of Research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS).
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She also stated that it “shifts the burden on consumers who already have a difficult time shopping for a vehicle.”
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Although blind spot monitoring systems are not required by regulations, they have become more popular — and for good reasons.
According to an IIHS study, the system can reduce injuries by 23% and the rear cross-traffic alarm that is often included with it can reduce backup crashes by 22%.
Volkswagen’s rear cross-traffic alert detects vehicles approaching from the sides while the driver is backing away. (VW/Fox News)
Cicchino said that while we don’t use them in our vehicle rating programs, they are useful technologies and should be on every vehicle.
These systems are not mandatory, so they aren’t always available on certain models. This makes it difficult for you to keep track of how many vehicles have been built without them.
An automaker could shift to manufacturing lower-spec models without “removing” any features.
These are valuable technologies that we want to have and we would like to see them in as many vehicles as possible.
“It is unfortunate that the chip shortage might prevent a new model coming with the most recent safety features that can prevent accidents and injuries,” stated Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.
He stated that safety is the main reason people upgrade their cars.
“However, most automakers possess the chips necessary to continue producing their models without having to remove equipment — and a smart buyer will avoid those models.”
Many electronic-intensive industries have seen a decline in semiconductor production. (Jens Schlueter/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images
Edmunds, an automotive online marketplace, first reported that Audi and Volkswagen were eliminating blind-spot monitors. In exchange for price cuts, Edmunds advises car buyers to do their research.
Ronald Montoya (brights senior consumer advice editor) stated that “I don’t think you can rely on the salesperson knowing everything about the car.”
He said, “So I recommend you look at the window sticker as the feature will be removed at the factory and notated — and that’s probably the most effective way to do it.”
“It will mean that fewer vehicles tomorrow will have this vital technology.”
Cicchino said, “It’s really difficult to shop for a car today.”
She said that although vehicles are generally difficult to find, consumers have to ensure that they have the right technology with the fluid environment of sometimes not getting 100% accurate information.
It’s more than a problem in today’s tight buyer market, with the average car age now at 12 years.
Cicchino stated that “we will be witnessing the consequences of the chip scarcity for years to come.” These vehicles will remain in the fleet, just like people who keep their cars for over a decade.
She also stated that “it’ll mean less of tomorrow’s cars will have this important tech,”