By on January 10, 2022

DriveTribe, a social-media site that was focused on the automotive industry and car enthusiasm, has shut down.

The cause: The semiconductor chip shortage.

Yes, really. The site, which was founded by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May — the TV hosts made famous by Top Gear and later The Grand Tour — is shutting down because the three say that the “severe reductions in marketing budgets across the industry” caused by the chip shortage have led to a drop in advertising revenue.

DriveTribe goes dark at month’s end.

“We’re all really disappointed that challenges in the industry – not in the least helped by the ongoing pandemic – have simply made it impossible to continue with the business in its current form,” Clarkson added in the statement.

May, for his part, was more colorful. This is fun to read in a British accent: “But ultimately, this is a business, and businesses are being kicked in the nads by everything that’s going on in the world.”

Hammond says he’ll keep the “brand alive and the conversation going” on his own social media channels.

Users can download the content they contributed, to keep it from sailing away into the ether.

I personally didn’t spend a lot of time on DriveTribe, but I understand that this is a sad day for enthusiasts and automotive media. It’s one fewer online community where automotive enthusiasts could hang out online, and since the site hosted some editorial content, it’s also a loss for automotive journalism.

The pandemic and the chip shortage are going to, and have already, created a lot of economic havoc in the automotive industry. DriveTribe is just the latest casualty.

[Image: Screenshot of DriveTribe homepage]

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23 Comments on “Chip Shortage Claims an Unusual Victim: DriveTribe...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX


    Apparently nobody cared about DriveTribe (never heard of it), and the advertising money dried up. Blaming the chip crisis is a real stretch.

    Maybe the Top Gear trio has run out of marketable schtick.

    • 0 avatar

      This comment is correct on all points.

      The DT content was meh at best, and was only started once the three of them left the BBC and were free to profit off a standalone site. But interest in these guys is all video, not written words. So said mediocre website didn’t take off. They’re keeping the YouTube channel going, which should’ve been the extent of DriveTribe in the first place.

      Blaming a chip shortage because your website is lame is comical.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Corey, Clarkson was for many years the most highly paid auto columnist on the planet and also had the highest circulation/readership.

        Unfortunately too many USA too often overlook what is going on outside of their nation.

        Such as the success of Suzuki, and even Mitsubishi in other markets. Or that French manufacturers do actually sell vehicles outside of France.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m very aware of his 1980s-1990s record, but by the 2000s he had moved on to Top Gear, Fifth Gear, and video. I’ve not overlooked anything, it was 20 years ago now.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Corey, sorry but Clarskon was and still is active in the print media. For example he is still writing car reviews in the Sunday Times. His column was even carried in the paper that owns this site in the 2010’s. Compilations of his various columns on autos and/or ‘life’ also sell quite well.

        • 0 avatar
          Ol Shel

          They jumped the shark long ago. That’s what’s hard to overlook. I wanted to like their schtick, but just couldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Jeremy’s got his farm show at least. I thought it was brilliant stuff – funny, poignant, and educational all at once.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah pretty lame to try and use that as an excuse. Advertising money dried up because it wasn’t reaching a large enough audience of consumers that advertisers wanted to target.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        I’m operating under the impression that the whole industry will use the chip shortage excuse for whatever it can.

        Honestly I just think “the lads” have stretched themselves far too thin and the related content is suffering.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s the point of a boogeyman.

          Pay though the nose: chip shortage
          Can’t build salable models: chip shortage
          EVs still too high: chip shortage
          GDP growth negative: chip shortage

          • 0 avatar

            Wait – “But if it doesn’t use chips!”. Okay, then:

            Pay through the nose: pandemic
            Can’t build salable models: pandemic
            EVs still too high: pandemic
            GDP growth negative: pandemic

            …or the boogeyman of the hour as revealed by big media.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, they collectively have more than enough money to weather a storm, it apparently has no future because it sucks and this is an excuse to save face.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Agree they are all extremely wealthy. And the ‘interweb’ does not appear to be the forum best suited for their talents. Perhaps partially due to their ages?

        And Corey, regardless of my comments you are currently my favourite TTAC contributor. Keep up the great work.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Seeing what is being reported on many automotive sites (which is pretty thin) in light of the pandemic this isn’t surprising. Anything these days remotely car related gets written about because there is nothing else. How many USED CAR STORIES have we seen on TTAC saying how dire, over priced, sellers market, etc the whole used car thing is?

  • avatar

    Is this why I can’t find any cold and flu medicine at most grocery stores around me right now – the chip shortage? I see, it was also the chip shortage that causes the drive-thrus to close after 7PM.
    Or my personal favorite from the service bays at auto dealer shops – signs that have read “…due to Covid, we have ended Saturday service…” Huh? Since when did an oil change become impacted by Covid?

    • 0 avatar

      In the mortgage business, we got the “it was 9/11” line for EVERYTHING that went wrong for borrowers for years afterwards. My favorite: a mortgage broker who explained his client’s 60-day July 2001 mortgage payment being late with “his check was in one of the planes that went into the World Trade Center.” No doubt that piece of intel came from Mohammad Atta, who was looking right at the check as the plane crossed the Hudson. Unfortunately, if his July payment was in transit on September 11th, well, yeah, bro – that’s a 60 day late. Cue the sad trombone sound…

      I’ll be hearing the “blame COVID” thing until the day they drag my sorry butt off the Earth. And the sad thing is that lots of people WERE affected, but the ones who will be spinning the sob stories will likely be the real estate agents and mortgage brokers who made out like bandits. Ponder that for a moment.

    • 0 avatar

      lack of techs during covid might lead places to redo their schedule so they have enough coverage during the week, and nobody left to work weekends?

  • avatar

    I don’t understand why companies like this don’t point out how much revenue is lost through social media like Facebook and Google determining traffic through promotional links and so on. Agree that this feels like a bit of an excuse, but ad revenues have tanked due to increased traffic everywhere online in pandemic – notice this site has got a lot more intrusive ads lately?

  • avatar

    First time I have ever heard of such a website. Oh well. Now, picture me wrapping my arms around TTAC, squeezing tight and saying: your all the enthusiast information and source of all things automotive website I will ever need!

  • avatar

    They were great on BBC, became rancid or stale on Amazon, and beyond that ? Enjoy the residuals, guys…

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