Tesla pulled non-critical steering component from some China-built cars to combat chip shortage

(Credit: Tesla)

Tesla reportedly pulled one of two electronic control units present in the steering racks of Shanghai-built Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to combat the global chip shortage, a new report claims. The chip pulled from these cars was not a safety issue and was non-critical to the overall operation of the vehicle.

Tesla reported its strongest full-year guidance in terms of production and delivery figures in 2021. One of the biggest ways Tesla remained so productive during the last two years, defying a global chip shortage, was by creating in-house microcontrollers and holding “buffer stock” of the chips to alleviate potential shortages.

“Our team has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to react quickly and mitigate disruptions to manufacturing caused by semiconductor shortages,” Tesla said in its Q2 2021 Shareholder Deck. “Our electrical and firmware engineering teams remain hard at work designing, developing, and validating 19 new variants of controllers in response to ongoing semiconductor shortages.” A recent report also detailed Tesla’s supplier strategy regarding chips, which the company held massive numbers of to avoid production halts.

A new report from CNBC states that Tesla also cut one of two electronic control units that are installed in China-built Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. The absence of the part was not disclosed by Tesla, according to the report. Thousands of vehicles from the Shanghai Gigafactory made their way to other regions, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and parts of Europe.

Tesla employees said in internal memos that the steering rack control unit would only be necessary for Level 3 autonomous cars. Tesla vehicles still operate in Level 2, according to SAE standards, and the lack of a second chip was not a safety issue. The report states that the removed control unit was deemed as a secondary system and was mainly used for a backup in case of issues with the primary chip. Tesla removed the chip because engineers deemed it redundant, according to the report. The lack of the chip will also save Tesla money in the short term.

Richard Wallace, an advisor for HWA Analytics, said:

“If something like a chip or an ECU is not providing additional functionality, if it is truly redundant, you may be able to turn it off or leave it out. With chips and software, there’s a little bit of wiggle room. I can reassign stuff here and there.”

Tesla expects to continue combating supply chain issues this year. During Tesla’s Q4 2021 Earnings Call, CEO Elon Musk said, “It’s hard to predict 2022 because we still have lingering supply chain — there are still lingering supply chain issues globally. But I think the chip stuff — at least the chip side of things appears to — looks like it will alleviate end of this year or ’23. I mean, there are a crazy number of chip fabs being built, which is great. The sheer number of chip fabs being built right now is exciting to see, yeah.”

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Quotes via The Motley Fool

Tesla pulled non-critical steering component from some China-built cars to combat chip shortage
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