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Toys The Reason Why Cars, Laptops And Phones Are In Short Supply

The Reason Why Cars, Laptops And Phones Are In Short Supply

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash
By Chong Jinn Xiung
By Chong Jinn Xiung
April 19, 2021
The lack of computer chips has disrupted production in multiple industries and frustrated consumers looking to buy new cars and electronic products.

If you were in the market for a new car, laptop or phone in the past year, you may have been told that the model you are looking for is not in stock. Why is this happening? To put it simply, there is a global shortage in supply of semiconductor chips, or computer chips, which is a crucial piece of technology that powers everything from our smartphones to cars.

This has resulted in companies like Apple and Samsung, two of the world's largest semiconductor buyers, being forced to delay the launch of their latest smartphones.

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Surprisingly, the automotive industry is also deeply affected by this shortage. But you may be wondering why the production of cars are tied to the supply of chips used to power a TV, smartphone or microwave? 

As it turns out, modern cars have become increasingly dependent on computer chips with more than 100 microprocessors used in a typical car. This is used to power advanced features that range from better fuel economy to the latest driver-assistants that help stop the car when it detects an object ahead of it.

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Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

The impact of this shortage is far reaching and will affect automakers from releasing their latest models. Reuters reports that the shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built in the US this year and disrupt production for another six months. 

How did this happen? It comes down to a combination of different factors including the shuttering of factories during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive backlog orders to fulfill after that. This was compounded by the sudden spike in demand for electronics as more people were forced to work from home or do remote learning.

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It doesn’t help that recent incidents like the grounded container ship in the Suez Canal, held up lots of computer chips from Asia heading to Europe. Adding to that, the winter storm that rocked Texas in February caused power outages that forced several chip factories to temporarily halt production.

That being said, how long can we expect this supply issue to affect product makers from releasing their latest products? The good news is that computer chip makers, both in Asia and the U.S., are expected to expand their capacity by building bigger factories though understandably this will take some time. For now, we will still have to bear with the inconvenience of not finding the product of choice or settling for a lower-end model without as many features.

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