Episode 44 – The Return of Dino
Welcome to the automotive podcast that can really “yuck some yums.”
Is that even a phrase? As heard in Episode 43, Daryl seems to think it is. Eric’s still on the fence.
Regardless of the weekly catchphrase, we’re glad you’re here!
In this episode, we’ve prepared an all-new interview with a familiar voice, and a topical conversation about something we’ve been hearing a lot about in recent weeks: The chip shortage.
We’re not talking about Lay’s, Ruffles or Tostitos disappearing from the snack aisle at Kroger. While a lack of salty snacks may be a serious inconvenience, the very real shortage of silicon chips is a huge problem for most of modern civilization.
Think about all of the items that use chipsets in 2021. Your car. Your phone. Your toaster oven. Even your robot vacuum cleaner that whirs around the floor and scares your cats on a daily basis… that’s got ’em. The fact that they’re in short supply has caused the production lines to come to a screeching halt around the world. Everything from Fords to Frigidares now sits in limbo. Unlike Doritos Cool Ranch, we can’t simply “just make more.” Our special guest explains why.
In this episode, we let the (silicon) chips fall where they may and welcome Dean Plumadore back to the show. If you recall, Dean was a guest on one of our early episodes to discuss his role as President of the Champaign County Sports Car Club, as well as his love of Corvettes.
Something else that Dean is also passionate about is technology. After retiring from Illinois State University in 2019 as Student Affairs Information Technology Project Manager, he quickly returned to the classroom to continue sharing his wealth of knowledge with younger generations.
We asked Dean to drop by to help the everyday automotive enthusiast understand why the recent global chipset shortage is wreaking havoc on a multitude of industries, including the automotive industry. We learned a TON about the history of processors and how they’ve seemingly crept into everything from your car stereo to the very computer that makes it run. Trust us, you’ll enjoy this lively discussion.
Thanks to Dean Plumadore for dropping some knowledge on us, and for making time to return to the studio.
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Some things never go out of style. Oooga horns aren’t one of those things. Eric’s son, Aiden asked for his father’s help installing a classic horn from the Model A-era in his Toyota 4 Runner. He’ll be guaranteed to be the only high-schooler with one of those! His 4 Runner is also in the shop getting a new harmonic balancer installed since the original one wanted to start wobbling around. Glad he caught this as soon as he did. It should be good-as-new soon.
Meanwhile, Eric is working to prepare the family horse trailer ready for the season. His first order of business will be to air up the tires since he seems to be the only one who will do it. Speaking of trailers, he also recently fixed part of a fence that he backed into with the trailer last year.
Eric is also busy planning his off-road and autocross season. He’s officially registered for the 2021 Great Smoky Mountain Trail Ride. This is the first event of 2021 and he’s super-stoked to bring the OG Treehugger 4 Runner back down south.
Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Daryl has slacked off and done nothing on any of his cars this past month. It’s been cold, but also… he’s just not feeling it. In typical form, he’ll likely start violently thrashing on stuff a week before the first Central Illinois Cars and Coffee on April 3rd.
As President of the Champaign County Sports Car Club, Dean has been actively planning out the 2021 race season with his fellow club members. The group, which typically calls the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois its home venue, put on a successful 2020 season. (We’ll dive into their upcoming season a lot more in a follow-up episode)
With all of the club business and a busy teaching schedule, Dean hasn’t had much time to work on his C7 Corvette, but something tells us he’ll make the time before the CCSCC kicks off the season on March 27th. Keep us posted, Dean!
Headlines – “Who Ate All The Chips?” Edition
Why We’re in the Midst of a Global Semiconductor Shortage
Source: Harvard Business Review
With the U.S. economy expected to gather steam this year as more and more Americans are vaccinated, one of the biggest cautions to consider is whether supply chains will be able to keep up with growing demand. Indeed, concerns about disruptions to supply chains and shortages that have occurred during the pandemic sparked the Biden administration to order a review of critical areas.
A major example is semiconductors. Lead times for many semiconductors are one year out right now, and these devices are in just about everything we use. Business and financial media have detailed how the shortage of semiconductors has caused production cutbacks in the automotive industry:
Ford, Toyota, Nissan, VW, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (now a part of Stellantis) are among global carmakers that have scaled back output. Other carmakers have announced they’ll likely miss their 2021 targets. And it’s not just carmakers that are in trouble. The chip shortages are expected to cause widespread shortages of everything, from electronics to medical devices to technology and networking equipment.
As recently reported by Reuters, automakers and medical device manufacturers have asked the Biden administration to subsidize construction of newa U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capacity. And in response to the shortages, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, has increased its 2021 capital spending budget to $28 billion. But funding and building a new semiconductor fab is at least a five-year process.
To a great extent, the chip shortage has been a ticking time bomb, building since late last year due to a few (unrelated) supply-chain disruptions. When the Covid-19 pandemic caused a precipitous drop in vehicle sales in spring 2020, automakers cut their orders of all parts and materials — including the chips needed for functions ranging from touchscreen displays to collision-avoidance systems. Then in the third quarter, when demand for passenger vehicles rebounded, chip manufacturers were already committed to supplying their big customers in consumer electronics and IT.
How Hyundai Avoided The Chip Shortage Plaguing Tesla, Other Automakers
Source: Yahoo Finance
What Happened: The South Korean automaker managed to avoid the shortage by stockpiling semiconductors last year and even purchasing more towards the end of 2020, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Like its peers, Hyundai too planned to cut production at the beginning of 2021 because of COVID-19. “But procurement read the trend of the semiconductor industry cutting auto chips production and said, ‘if we don’t buy them as well, we’ll be in trouble later on,” according to one of the people
Hyundai still purchased fewer chips last year than it did in 2020, but reportedly sharply increased purchases in the quarter ended December.
There’s A ‘Chip’ Shortage: And TSMC Holds All The Cards
Did you hear about the latest shortage?
Japanese carmaker Toyota shut its factory in San Antonio last month. GM, Volkswagen, Ford, Honda and Fiat Chrysler were forced to idle their plants too. In fact, GM said assembly lines won’t restart until late March.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM). And it’s ground zero for the chip shortage. Nvidia, Qualcomm QCOM +0.5%, and AMD are often referred to as “chipmakers,” but that’s a misnomer. These companies don’t actually make semiconductors. They’re more like architects, crafting blueprints and intricate designs for the chips.
When it comes to physically manufacturing the chips, they hand the reins to Taiwan’s TSMC. TSMC is the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer. Today, over 70% of top-shelf chips pass through its factories.
Remember, the whole world runs on chips these days. But TSMC is one of the only chipmakers capable of making the cutting-edge chips Apple and automakers need.
Trump’s China Tech War Contributed to the Chip Shortage
In at least one case, the shortage ties back to President Donald Trump’s policies aimed at curtailing technology transfers to China.
One automaker moved chip production from China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, or SMIC, which was hit with U.S. government restrictions in December, to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co in Taiwan, which in turn was overbooked, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
An auto supplier confirmed TSMC has been unable to keep up with demand.
Growing Computer-Chip Shortage Alarms Biden and Congress
Source: Washington Post
President Biden will meet Wednesday (3/3/2021) with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to confront growing concern about a global shortage of semiconductors that is hobbling automakers and other manufacturers and has led to production cutbacks.
News of the meeting, confirmed by people familiar with the matter, came as Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for Congress to appropriate funds it previously had authorized for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, calling the current lack of production capacity “a dangerous weak spot in our economy and in our national security.”
Moment of Musk:
Porsche Taycan vs Model 3
While the Porsche Taycan Turbo S and the Tesla Model 3 Performance are very different vehicles, both electric sedans are capable of handling the demands of track driving. The Turbo S far exceeds the Model 3 Performance in terms of price, however, with the German-made super-sedan starting at a price roughly equal to three Model 3 Performance units.
The wide gap between the Model 3 and the Taycan Turbo S’ price encouraged racing enthusiast and EV owner Rex Raikkonen to see just how far he could push his Tesla on the track. Going into the 2020 SCCA Time Trial Nationals, Raikkonen tried to see if his Model 3 Performance could catch the lap set by the Porsche Taycan Turbo S at the National Corvette Museum (NCM) track.
Raikkonen’s Model 3 Performance did have suspension upgrades from EV tuning house Mountain Pass Performance, but the all-electric sedan was still running on street tires. The Tesla owner’s goal for the lap was ambitious, seeing as the Taycan Turbo S ran a 2:15.3 lap with professional driver Andy Pilgrim behind the wheel. The Taycan’s run, featured on Automobile Magazine’s Pro Racers show on YouTube, showed just how well-tuned the electric super-sedan was for the circuit.
On Raikkonen run, he pushed his Model 3 Performance hard around the NCM track,. The Tesla Model 3 Performance was ultimately able to complete a lap around the NCM track in 2:15.8, just half a second behind the Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
Comments about the run posted on the r/TeslaMotors subreddit mentioned that the Model 3 could have actually matched or even beat the Taycan Turbo S’ 2:15.3 time if Raikkonen had driven a bit more aggressively during his hot lap. With a set of better tires and a more aggressive driving style, the reasonably affordable Model 3 could have exhibited an even more impressive lap.
While he fell 0.5 seconds short of the Taycan Turbo S, Raikkonen remarked that he was not disappointed with his Model 3 at all. The vehicle, after all, only cost about $70,000 including its Mountain Pass Performance upgrades. That’s just a fraction of the Taycan Turbo S’ premium price, which usually reaches well into the $200,000s when spec’d.
While we are talking about misspeaking, The Drive reminded us of this tweet from back in Sept 2019:
Twitter users, however, immediately reminded Musk of his own and Tesla’s lax attitude toward dictionary definitions. They pointed out that Tesla uses “Supercharger” to describe high-wattage DC charge stations rather than belt-driven air compressors that increase the power density of combustion engines. And also that Musk’s proclamation of “funding secured” didn’t survive a round of fact-checking by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cars of the Weak
Each week at this time, we pretend to have unlimited funds and we go hypothetical, “Mental” car-shopping-spree on our favorite websites to find the next project, dream car, or long-lost-love from our past.
2001 Toyota Land Cruiser 70 4.2 Pickup
$21,126 US / 17,500 €
What’s better than a 70-series Land Cruiser? A 70-series Land Cruiser truck, of course! This go-anywhere, do-anything truck features classic Toyota lines, a 4.2-liter diesel 6 cylinder engine and a manual transmission like God intended.
Since the United States never saw these trucks, Eric located this 116,000 kilometer example in the Netherlands. If it wasn’t for the whole Atlantic Ocean being in the way, I’m sure he would fly in and drive it home. A cool little rig that would be right at home on the Stahl family ranch.
1960 Buick LeSabre 4 door hardtop
Reserve not met at $5,600
A prime example of a Space-Age sedan, this Buick would look right at-home in the Scott museum. With a 364 ‘nailhead’ V-8 and smooth 2-speed automatic, this pillarless hardtop has room for the entire family. Even the in-laws. The flat roofline and curved back glass are a mid-century delight, along with those swept quarters and rear decklid that culminate in tasteful afterburner taillights. The reserve on this one didn’t get met, so maybe there’s a chance that Daryl could take this one home. Probably not. But maybe.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 392
$77,000 (Estimated, available late spring)
Dean appreciates a good SUV. Dean also appreciates horsepower. Why not marry the two with a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and a 6.4 liter 470-horsepower V-8? Say what you will about Fiat Chrysler / Stellantis / Whatever-They’re-Called-Now, their formula for making something instantly cool is to drop in a massive Hemi motor and make lots of noise. Dean is 100% okay with this and so are we. Happy trails, Dean. Just be sure to budget for a few sets of tires.
Don’t forget to hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback, jokes or automotive news. We’ll see you next time, friends.
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