A global shortage of microchips has forced automakers to get creative. GM, for example, is removing less popular features from some of its best-selling models. Reports suggest that the HD radio option will be removed from the 2021 Chevy Silverado and 2021 GMC Sierra full-size trucks.
The average new car contains dozens of microchips. You control everything from the cabin temperature to the valve control. Manufacturers who have not been able to buy enough chips to keep up with demand have slowed or stopped production of some vehicles.
Large trucks are GM’s most popular product
However, automakers would prefer not to slow production of their most popular models. So some have started to reconfigure them so that companies can build vehicles with fewer microchips.
General Motors’ best-selling vehicles are large pickups. The Chevy Silverado was America’s second best-selling vehicle last year. His cousin GMC Sierra finished ninth on this list. The two are largely identical, so you can argue convincingly that together they make America’s best-selling vehicle.
Removing unpopular features to keep factories running
Instead of building fewer of them, the company has repeatedly removed less popular features from the models. First, they removed a cylinder deactivation feature that improved fuel economy when driving on the highway. The company later removed a start-stop function – another fuel saver that many buyers deactivate anyway. Any change will allow GM to build big trucks with fewer microchips.
Now HD Radio has seen the ax. A GM spokesperson tells us:
“Due to the global, industry-wide shortage of semiconductors, GM is removing HD radio functionality from certain 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 model years. All 2022 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500/3500 HD models will also not have HD radio. The change comes into force “from vehicles that go into production on or after July 12, 2021”.
HD radio broadcasts a digital signal over AM and FM channels. Unlike satellite radio, no subscription is required; the broadcasts are free as long as you have a system with built-in HD radio technology.
Fewer drivers hear anyway
The change, we are told, is “currently expected to be permanent”. It also makes sense. A study by market research firm Strategy Analytics found that radio listeners fell sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic and did not recover.
The poll’s author, Derek Viita, told RadioWorld that “the pandemic has only served to increase the uptake of other media sources. Some radio broadcasters in the west report that their ratings have fallen because many of those who listened on their way to work have not returned from home, ”Viita said.
With many drivers switching to streamed in-car entertainment, the cut in HD radio likely means getting rid of a feature that few buyers use.