GM Full-Size SUVs to Stop Offering Electric Power Steering Lock Due to a World Microchip Shortage

Most people are aware of the worldwide semiconductor microchip shortage. This has caused problems in various industries, as these microchips are vital to numerous electrical processes in household goods, computers, and cars. Many car companies have had to pivot their manufacturing processes due to this shortage, including GM.  What exactly does this mean for the car industry moving forward? 

A silver building with a blue ring around the top in the shape of circle and the GM logo at the top. GM feels the microchip shortage.
General Motors (GM) | Getty Images

GM halts electric power steering lock in its full-size SUVs

Numerous carmakers have scaled back production to manage the microchip shortage, including both GM and Ford. This has skyrocketed car prices, making previously affordable vehicles out of reach for many families and individuals. One strategy GM has come up with to combat the problem is cutting its electric power steering lock in its full-size SUV offerings. 

This feature also called the Electric Steering Column Lock, is a theft-prevention device that prevents a vehicle’s steering column from operating unless the proper key is placed in the ignition or the key fob is in range. This safety feature prevents theft from car hotwiring, though the cutting of this feature will not affect the car’s performance or drivability in any way. 

According to GM Authority, vehicles that would typically come with this feature but are built without it will be tagged with an R7N RPO code to signify that they don’t have this mechanism. Additionally, consumers who purchase one of these vehicles will receive a $50 MSRP credit. 

Which GM vehicles does this cut affect?

This cut was authorized to began on July 5th, 2021, and it’s expected that full-size GM SUVs manufactured for the remainder of the year will not have the Electronic Steering Column Lock feature. Those full-size SUV models include the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, and the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban.

Demand for new vehicles, both from consumers and dealerships, remains high. This is GM’s attempt at meeting those demands to bring in more revenue for the company after they finished with a rough 2020 and challenging start to 2021. 

GM Authority also reports that the microchip shortage resulted in a production cut of over 275,000 vehicles back in May 2021. By now, that figure is likely significantly higher, though removing certain features, like the Electronic Steering Column Lock, have probably helped get production numbers closer to their normal figures than they would otherwise be. 


The Sneaky Way Tesla Makes Cars Without Microchips

How else do microchip shortages affect carmakers?

Microchips are used for numerous vehicle applications, including infotainment systems, fuel information, and other safety features like blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. According to Consumer Reports, some luxury vehicles with more advanced systems can require more than 100 microchips.

Customer Report reports that one chip manufacturer predicts the shortage could last well until 2023. This will almost certainly result in continued high prices for all types of cars, and certain features may continue to be cut from vehicles to meet demand. This news is especially troublesome for carmakers who want to up their electric vehicle game.

Electric vehicles are still experiencing high demand, but their hefty prices in years past have driven many consumers to purchase regular vehicles instead. High prices and significant delays in delivery from the shortage will likely make electric vehicle adoption even more difficult in the coming years. Scientific American , for example, reports that Ford had to delay deliveries of the Ford Mustang Mach-E for at least six weeks back in August. Nobody knows for sure how long this shortage will last, but it will undoubtedly take a long time for the auto industry to recover fully.