Software Is Eating the Car

Hundreds of millions of new lines of code for self-driving and electric vehicles



I was in the midst of a deep dive into the future of automobiles — thinking about everything from EVs to the end of the sedan to autonomous driving — when I happened across this fantastic IEEE Spectrum infographic (that is 1 of 3, above). It is from this piece: “How Software Is Eating the Car.”

It was so intriguing that I had to share it.

The tl:dr is this: delays in ramping up the production of semiconductors are preventing new cars from completing their manufacturing process. Semiconductors run everything from engine management to cruise control to even your sunroof.  This has created a massive shortfall of cars for sale — we are running more than 4.1 million units short annually versus a normal year.

Similar to how the shortage of single-family homes is sending housing prices upwards, the dearth of new cars is also pushing late-model cars up in price. This is manifesting itself in a variety of ways:

-Order a new car today, and take delivery in Q4 or 2022;

-Buy a used car, pay a premium of 15-25% over historical averages.

-Look for relatively rare option combination (manual, convertible, etc.) pay 30+% premium;

All of these shortfalls will come to an end once the chips that are used in cars ramp back up to full production.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking about getting that next car, you will have more choices and at lower prices, if you can wait somewhere between 6-18 months.

And if you have any extra cars lying around, consider selling them to capture that supply limited premium.


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