The Truth About Cars » chips The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:25:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » chips California Offering Legacy License Plates Fri, 05 Apr 2013 14:31:14 +0000

The California state DMV is offering motorists the chance to step back in time and order new license plates in historic color combinations.

Your choices are black letters on a yellow background, yellow letters on a black background (the famous original black plates often found on California barn finds) and, my favorite – the color combination synonymous with the 1970s, Disco, leisure suits and “CHiPs,” – yellow letters on a blue background.

The program requires a minimum of 7500 paid pre-orders prior to January 1, 2015, but the DMV’s information states that, once that magic number of has been hit, the program will begin immediately so the wait for your new plates may be substantially less than it first appears. The best news is that you don’t have to own a classic car to get that classic look. But it helps!

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Japanese Parts Paralysis: Bad Bets With Chips Thu, 21 Jul 2011 15:55:42 +0000

Why was Honda as much hit as Toyota by the March11 earthquake and tsunami? Doesn’t Honda have the bulk of its production outside of Japan? How could Nissan avoid most of the damage, even with an engine factory close to Fukushima?

It was a bit like a roulette game, and it involved a lot of chips.  According to industry talk in Japan, Nissan had taken a large supply of ECU chips before the quake. Honda and Toyota were waiting for their just-in-time delivery.  Honda and Toyota received most of their engine controller chips from one chipmaker, Renesas. Two weeks after the catastrophe, we had pointed out that Renesas and its damaged fab near the epicenter would turn into a major bottleneck. What’s more, Honda had no idea.

Honda bought its engine computers from three different companies, Keihin, Denso and Hitachi Automotive. Honda thought that it was well diversified. What  Honda did not realize at first was that the chips in the controllers were all from the same company: Renesas.

“Before the quake, automakers were trying to diversify their suppliers,” writes The Nikkei [sub] today. “But the troubles at Renesas revealed that when they looked farther down the supply chain — at indirect suppliers — they had in fact actually been relying on single firms for certain components.”

Honda did not have a problem with its V6 engines, which use chips by U.S.  Freescale Semiconductor. More that 80 percent of Honda’s cars volume is small and midsize cars. They usually use in-line four-cylinder engines, and it turned out than in most of their ECUs were microcontrollers supplied by Renesas.

Starting this fall, Honda will begin to use microcontrollers from other manufacturers for some of its models. What’s more there is a drive under way that seeks to standardize common parts across the Japanese industry, and microcontrollers are the ideal target. The firmware in the controllers can change, but the chips can be supplied from multiple manufacturers.


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Japanese Parts Paralysis: And Now, The Great Chip Famine Wed, 18 May 2011 13:23:25 +0000

Automakers in Japan are slowly crawling back to normal. However, they are in for another after shock, and this one could be quite serious: Yasushi Akao, President of chipmaker Renesas said today that supplies of microcontrollers from his company will be in serious trouble come June. According to The Nikkei [sub], “stocks are expected to run out next month as operations at the firm’s Naka plant in Ibaraki Prefecture have been suspended since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.”  Renesas microcontrollers are the chips of choice of many car companies who use them in their on-board electronics. Toyota is known to be a large customer of Renesas.

Why the shortage with a 3 months delay after the earthquake? As reported earlier, chips take months to “grow.” The Naka fab of Renesas accounts for about 25 percent of its global automotive microcontroller capacity. It had been closed after the earthquake. Naka is what’s called a “front-end line” fab, which does the early steps of IC production. The fab is scheduled to re-open in June.

But: Chips started from scratch in June will ship sometime in August – if left unimpeded by power outages. The supply that runs out in June is mostly from production that had been started before the quake. There will be a dry season for chips through early fall.

As previously announced, Renesas will ration the chips, or make that, “supply microcontrollers to its customers based on historical business ties,” as Akao put it.


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Japanese Parts Paralysis: Renesas Rations Chips For Toyota, Nissan And Honda Thu, 14 Apr 2011 10:36:16 +0000

Yesterday’s good news from strategically important  Japanese automotive chip maker Renesas did not last long. Now for the bad news: Their automotive microcontroller chips will be strictly rationed when they eventually ship. This being Japan, it is said more politely: Renesas is “thinking about the development of voluntary rules for major automakers,” as Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun puts it.

The paper expects a “severe shortage of electronic parts”  fort this summer,  especially in the area of engine and brake control. The shortage could “eventually spread to other industries as well.”  Auto majors Toyota , Nissan and Honda will devise a system to share the limited supply of microcontrollers, says the Yomiuri.

Moving a whole corporation from Windows to Mac sounds trivial compared to switching automotive chip suppliers. “I see too many problems trying to replace these devices,” Matteo Fini, senior analyst at IHS Automotive, told CNET. Engine control units are designed to match the characteristics of a particular power train, Automakers use different programming languages, the computer chips have a different pin-out.

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Culprit Of Chip Shortage Found, Automaker Hunting Down Chips Wed, 14 Jul 2010 12:56:50 +0000

We finally know who’s responsible for shutting down Nissan assembly lines in Japan and the U.S.A. The shortage of a critical computer chip stopped Hitachi from making ECUs, which in turn stopped Nissan from making cars. For days, the identity of the lackadaisical chipmaker had been kept under wraps. Now, the culprit has been unmasked.

It is STMicroelectronics in Geneva, Switzerland. Yesterday, senior executives from Nissan and Hitachi on visited the offices of STMicroelectronics in Europe “for talks to seek an early resumption of full supplies,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. Apparently, the talks didn’t go too well, as evidenced by the fact that the name of the company is now out in the open.

The Nikkei says that STMicroelectronics had issued a notice on July 2 that it could supply only slightly more than 80 percent of the 120,000 chips for Nissan vehicles that it was supposed to ship under contract. Hitachi immediately dispatched personnel to Europe, but a senior official at Hitachi’s a said the STMicroelectronics did not provide a detailed explanation.

Hitachi supplies some 90 percent of its engine control units to Nissan. They are short of STM chips that control ignition coils.

STMicroelectronics also deliver to Bosch, Delphi, and Denso. Some Hitachi officials speculated that STMicroelectronics may have given precedence to other clients.

If chips are in short supply, then the auto industry must be doing quite well. Says The Nikkei in another story: “Alarmed by the growing prospects of a shortage of crucial chips for their products, many automakers are already taking steps to secure stable supply.” A spokesman of STM said that the recovery of the automotive business is taking place at a faster rate than expected and that the whole automotive electronics supply chain is currently under pressure to keep up with the market’s demand.

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Car Chip Shortage Hits US Shores Tue, 13 Jul 2010 15:24:34 +0000

The shortage of a critical computer chip that Hitachi desperately needs to supply Nissan with ECUs  now threatens to affect U.S. production. Yesterday, Nissan warned that they will close down Japanese assembly lines. Today, Nissan COO Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said that production in the U.S. may be halted until the chip shortage is solved.

“If there is any impact, (the factories that could be affected) would be our Smyrna plant (in Tennessee) and a plant in Mexico,” Toshiyuki Shiga told reporters. According to The Nikkei [sub] Hitachi informed Nissan on July 7 that supply would not be possible from the following week. Nissan had no way to switch to alternate channels. “It was a huge decision for us to halt production lines,” said Shiga said. Especially for something as small as an itty-bitty chip. Nissan uses Hitachi-made ECUs for “almost all models” it produced in the U.S. and Mexico, Shigha said.

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Chip Shortage Stops Nissan Assembly Lines Mon, 12 Jul 2010 13:51:18 +0000

So far, it had been striking workers at Chinese parts suppliers that brought Japanese car makers to their knees, praying for parts needed to re-start the lines. Here is a new  twist: Japan’s Hitachi ran out of chips for ECUs (commonly called “car computers”). And Japanese carmakers are shutting down the lines.

Nissan announced today they will suspend production lat four of their plants in Japan for at least two days (July 14 through July 16) while they wait for ECUs made by Hitachi. At least 15,000 cars are affected.

Hitachi in turn is waiting for their supplier. “The supply of a specific IC chip suddenly declined this month, and the supplier has yet to tell us why exactly this is happening,” said Hitachi executive managing director Yasuhiko Honda. He wouldn’t name the IC chip supplier.

Hitachi says the chip shortage affects Nissan “and two other Japanese automakers.”

The Nikkei [sub] immediately went on the hunt for the “two others.”

Subaru uses Hitachi ECUs but “has yet to confirm whether it is affected by the delay.”

The Nikkei is still on the prowl for the third victim of the chip constraint.

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