Cars, computers, and COVID-19 - one thing ties them all together but how does this affect the Perodua Ativa?
There are very few places where the business of manufacturing vehicles overlaps with, well, anything else. But since the introduction of electronic fuel injection and the ever increasing amount of computerized control units in vehicles, the number of electronic complexity in your average car has steadily increased. We are even on the advent of car-to-car communication, autonomous driving, and various other big-data based automotive systems.
What this also means is the cars need microprocessors - more than ever before. This even comes down to your average Perodua Axia and Proton Saga - let alone things like the Perodua Ativa and Proton X50 which come with far more systems and components packing microprocessors. While these are locally manufactured cars, there are still certain items that need to be imported - whether that happens at Perodua's manufacturing level, or with one of their suppliers.
If you've been paying attention to the news, however, semiconductors are facing severe shortages in supply around the world. Semiconductors are essentially the building blocks for microprocessors, so if you can imagine a shortage of one will lead to a shortage of the other. Experts blame a variety of reasons for it, chiefly COVID-19 as having forced people back into their homes and rapidly increased the demand for consumer products such as computers, laptops, gaming consoles, and so on.
It is not as if there wasn't already a shortage prior to COVID-19. Some will point out that as 5G technology was poised to hit the market, global semiconductor supply would already have struggled to match demand. The fact that 5G technology has simply been replaced by other component demands hasn't really impacted the supply issue. What is affecting the automotive industry is that as demand fell during COVID-19's earliest stages, many automotive manufacturers severely cut their orders for microprocessors which meant that microprocessor manufacturers committed their production to consumer electronics.
Now that demand for automobiles has resurged, automakers are finding it hard to get production capacity anywhere. Perhaps it may not affect simpler cars, but the more modern ones packing full-on safety suites are sure to have a pinch in production if they cannot source microprocessors reasonably steadily. Even graphics card manufacturers struggle to get an allocation, and Sony's PlayStation 5 has such a long backorder that you would probably be waiting well in 2022 due to chip shortages.
So for now, we may be facing a production slowdown because Perodua and Proton simply hadn't anticipated the sheer volume and demand for their products - but if the demand stays high and chip shortages aren't accounted for, you may find other reasons for long waiting lists for your car.
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