We’ve all seen the images, hundreds of thousands of nearly finished vehicles rendered utterly useless by a lack of semiconductors. In response, Ford Motor Company has recently announced a new strategic partnership with GlobalFoundries, the world’s fourth-largest producer of semiconductor chips.
Due to a global shortage of these all-important chips production plans have been disrupted and derailed multiple times since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. And it’s not a problem unique to the automotive industry either, basically, any product integrating electrical and digital elements will require semiconductors. So, yes, even your washer and dryer.
It’s amid this climate that Ford Motor Company has entered into a new strategic partnership with GlobalFoundries.
For now, the nonbinding agreement is exploratory, but it could eventually lead to a larger bag of chips for Ford Motor Company. Longer-term, the two companies will collaborate on research and development for new semiconductors needed to power electric vehicles, autonomous driving systems, and other future technologies.
“It’s critical that we create new ways of working with suppliers to give Ford — and America — greater independence in delivering the technologies and features our customers will most value in the future,” Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley said in a statement.
Semiconductors have played a significant role in the auto industry for years, even though the development of car-specific chips lagged behind the computer and smartphone industries. Semiconductor sourcing was often left to auto parts suppliers who would integrate whatever was available into things like power window assemblies or dashboard displays.
For a long time, automotive chip technology was simply trickled down from the computing industries. But with the increasing sophistication of the vehicles and control systems required to run on these semiconductors, the mainstream automakers are starting to take a keen interest in the design and production of this crucial component.
Tesla already designs and builds its own chips, and at the height of the shortage, the EV maker was able to rework some of its software to work on a different spec of semiconductor.
Surely that flexibility didn’t go unnoticed.