DETROIT — General Motors is leaving customers in the cold by eliminating heated seats from many 2022 models, but the automaker appears to have had little choice in the matter. Its heated-seat supplier is missing the necessary components.
As a result, heated and ventilated seats are being cut from more than a dozen nameplates, as well as all Chevy Silverados and Traverses below the High Country trim and all GMC Sierras and Acadias below Denali. Heated steering wheels will be removed from many of the same vehicles, in addition to highly profitable Chevy and GMC full-size SUVs.
GM last week told dealers that the vehicles can have heated and ventilated seats added when parts are available, potentially by the middle of 2022. As a result, GM will discount the vehicles in the United States by US$50, instead of up to US$500 as it originally said, according to a memo obtained by Automotive News. GM Canada originally said a discount would apply in Canada, too. But the automaker didn’t disclose the value and couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
The ability to retrofit the vehicles is good news for dealers who are about to spend the winter persuading customers paying upward of $40,000 for a vehicle only to forego a coveted and increasingly common feature.
GM has made various equipment changes as the global microchip shortage has crippled production industrywide. In this case its supplier, Gentherm, is grappling with a shortage from its own semiconductor suppliers, people familiar with the issue told Automotive News.
The issue shows that the chip shortage remains volatile and affects multiple layers of the supply chain, even as most assembly plants have largely gone back to normal production schedules.
"We are working closely with our supplier partner to mitigate the chip shortage's impact on this feature item," GM said in a statement without identifying Gentherm. "We expect this measure to be temporary until chip supplies improve."
GM told dealers that heated steering wheels cannot be retrofitted, so vehicles missing that feature will still be discounted by US$150 south of the border.
Gentherm declined a request for comment.
Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley last week said he didn't anticipate any disruption in availability of heated seats and steering wheels, though Ford has had to work through numerous other issues created by the chip shortage.
"We're not engineered like that," Farley said. "Our modules that make our seat controllers and heated steering wheels are in good shape."
Gentherm CEO Phil Eyler warned of upcoming product shortages during the company's third-quarter earnings call in October.
"Although we expect this to continue for the foreseeable future, the information we're receiving from customers and our semiconductor suppliers would indicate that in 2022, we should return to a gradual improvement and possibly a recovery by the second half of 2022," Eyler said.
Gentherm is working with its chip supplier on redesigns and alternative chip plans, he said.
"They're scouring their landscape to find solutions," he said. "There are some options that are starting to pop up, but it's a little bit too early to tell if we're going to be able to fill that void."