The chip shortage has claimed another casualty as far as modern car features go. This time, the shortage is leaving owners of some brand-new BMW models without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Well, at least, temporarily. The Bavarian carmaker has asked new customers to wait until it can push an over-the-air update that will eventually enable the smartphone interface, as Automotive News reports.
The delay is due to BMW switching to a new chip supplier, which has hardware ready to go but not the software needed to run the smartphone integration. This is primarily affecting models specified with code “6P1,” and it’s happening in major markets including the U.S. and throughout the European Union.
BMW expects the OTA update to be ready some time in the summer, around the end of June. Until then, it looks like drivers of the BMW models affected will have to use the good, old Bluetooth A2DP profile, or (gasp!) be forced to use the antiquated 3.5mm AUX port — if their smartphone still has a 3.5mm port.
But the choice for both carmaker and car buyers alike was either to slum it with the old tech temporarily, or not have a new BMW at all. As the chip shortage is ongoing, BMW had to choose between idling certain production plants earlier this year or releasing new cars without the Apple and Google tech.
BMW’s infotainment supplier Harman said the decision to “de-content” some hardware would keep production flowing, and new car delivery uninterrupted:
“In some cases, we were able de-content some of our products and keep this customer experience on the same level,” Harman Automotive boss Christian Sobottka told Automotive News Europe. “The quick redesign and the de-contenting in many cases avoided a week-long [plant] shutdown.”
This selective approach of what to include and what to (briefly) omit is all carmakers can reportedly do as they struggle against declines in production and sales. Automakers say this sharp decrease is due to the chip shortage, and it’s forcing the carmakers to “de-content” in other ways.
VW sold some of its cars without a head unit at all in Brazil. GM had to cut heated seats from some of its crossovers. And Ford had to cut navigation features from few Bronco models. I really hope this move to de-content will see a corresponding reduction in “de-payment.”