What cars are not affected by chip shortage?

The global semiconductor chip shortage has significantly impacted the automotive industry over the past couple of years. With chip supplies unable to keep up with demand, car manufacturers have been forced to cut production, leading to reduced new car inventory and higher prices. However, not all vehicles have been impacted equally by the chip crisis. Here’s a look at what kinds of cars have been least affected by the semiconductor shortage.

Older Model Years

In general, older model year vehicles that have been in production for several years have been less affected by chip shortages compared to newer models. This is because the supply chains and chip requirements for established models are well-known by manufacturers, making them easier to source. For example, a 2021 Toyota Camry or Honda Accord may be easier to find on dealer lots than a 2022 version of those vehicles. The same goes for trucks like the Ford F-150 or Ram 1500 – dealers likely have healthier inventory of 2020 or 2021 models versus the newest 2022 editions.

Full-Size Pickup Trucks

Full-size pickup trucks from domestic automakers have been relatively insulated from the chip crisis compared to other market segments. Models like the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 are critical profit drivers for these companies, so they have prioritized chip supply to keep these best-sellers moving. Many dealers have maintained decent stocks of popular trucks throughout the chip shortage, although shoppers may find less selection of specialty high-end trims or colors. But overall, full-size trucks have been among the most insulated from the chip shortage’s production cuts.

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are largely built on unique platforms from the ground up with their own dedicated supply chains, making them less prone to chips shortages faced by traditional gas vehicles. Tesla, for example, has avoided major production issues through strong supplier relationships and custom chip designs. Other automakers have insulated EV models like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 from chip issues as well. EV startups like Rivian and Lucid have also smoothly launched new models, being designed from day one to use available next-gen chips.

Mainstream Crossovers and SUVs

Mainstream compact and midsize crossovers and SUVs from mass-market brands have faced lower scarcity compared to other categories. Models like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Escape offer high sales volumes and profits, so automakers have prioritized chip supply to these cash cows. While there may be less variety in terms of colors or options, basic crossover inventory has held up better than many other segments. For cost-conscious shoppers, these practical SUVs represent a sweet spot combining availability, affordability and utility.

Luxury Vehicles

Against expectations, many luxury vehicles have avoided the worst of the chip crisis. Premium automakers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus have maintained stronger access to chips thanks to their high profit margins, exclusive contracts and greater order flexibility. Additionally, luxury buyers tend to order highly-configured vehicles well in advance versus impulse buys off the lot. This has allowed brands to adjust orders and allocate chips as needed. As a result, everything from luxury SUVs to opulent sedans and sports cars have faced less inventory crunches than their mainstream peers.

Why Have These Segments Been Less Affected?

There are a few key reasons why the vehicles above have largely dodged the chip shortage:

  • Higher profit margins: Luxury and full-size trucks bring far larger profits which gives them priority for chip supplies.
  • Separate supply chains: EVs and niche models often have unique parts sourcing apart from wider industry.
  • Prioritization of high-demand models: Automakers allocate scarce chips to popular top-selling vehicles and profitable segments.
  • Advance orders: Luxury buyers order customized vehicles ahead of time, allowing adjustments to order specs if needed.
  • Mature designs: Older models rely on well-established chip supplies that are easier to source.

What Kinds of Vehicles Have Been Most Impacted?

On the flip side, here are the categories of vehicles most impacted by ongoing chip shortages:

  • Small economy cars: Affordable compact and subcompact cars cater to the most price-sensitive buyers, making them less profitable. Manufacturers have cut their chip allocation as a result.
  • Mainstream sedans: Family sedans like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima have faced heavy shortages. Chips have been redirected to hotter-selling crossovers and SUVs.
  • Electrified vehicles: Conventional hybrids and plug-in cars from mainstream brands have faced bigger shortfalls than dedicated EVs.
  • Niche and sports cars: Lower-volume sports cars, coupes and minivans have been heavily impacted due to lower priority for chips.
  • Latest model years: Newly released 2022 and 2023 model year vehicles have been hindered by changing chip requirements and unstable initial supplies.

Which Brands Have Been Most Affected?

Looking across brands, some automakers have been stung worse than others by semiconductor shortages based on their vehicle mix and supply chains. Brands that have seen some of the biggest inventory crunches include:

  • Toyota: Popular models like the RAV4 and Camry have faced shortages along with a discontinued entry-level Yaris subcompact.
  • Honda: Accord and Civic sedans have been heavily impacted along with the entry HR-V small crossover.
  • Nissan: Reliant on sedans like the Altima and Sentra, Nissan continues to face inventory shortfalls.
  • Volkswagen: Leaning hatchback-heavy in the U.S., VW has struggled with the chip crisis, including the Passat sedan and Atlas crossover.
  • Subaru: With high crossover reliance (Forester, Outback) Subaru has battled chip headwinds.

Detroit automakers like GM, Ford and Stellantis have also been hit due to pickup truck concentration, but have managed the crisis fairly well compared to import brands.

How Long Will the Chip Shortage Last?

Industry experts expect the semiconductor shortage impacting the auto industry to persist through 2022 and into 2023, though the situation should generally improve over time. Chip suppliers are investing billions to boost production capacity which should help ease the imbalance between chip demand and supply. However, it takes years to build new foundries. And compounding matters is strong chip demand from other sectors like consumer electronics and telecommunications, also competing for finite supplies.

Additional COVID-related factory shutdowns, increasing electric vehicle production, natural disasters and geopolitical issues could also hamper chip output intermittently. While the crisis may take a couple years to be fully resolved, easier-to-source vehicle types outlined earlier should see inventory conditions gradually improve as chip makers ramp up production.

Tips for Finding Vehicles in Short Supply

For car shoppers struggling to find in-demand models with low inventory, follow these tips to improve your chances:

  • Consider ordering a factory build: This guarantees you the exact color and options you want.
  • Check dealers beyond your local area: Many are willing to transport vehicles hundreds of miles these days.
  • Shop less popular colors/trims: Steer clear of hard-to-find black, white or fully-loaded builds.
  • Compromise on features: Skip picky cosmetic options that limit choices like extra-cost paint.
  • Act quickly once located: Be ready to buy or put down a deposit to secure a car.
  • Stay patient and persistent: Keep engaging dealers to access inbound inventory.

Also be open to considering used vehicles, leasing, delaying a purchase or using a vehicle subscription service to wait out shortages. With smart shopping techniques and flexibility, buyers can still find good options in today’s supply-constrained market.

The Outlook Moving Forward

Vehicle inventory levels should gradually improve month-over-month as chip capacities grow, eventually returning to more normal levels in 2023-2024. Until the imbalance is corrected, shoppers interested in hard-to-find models may need to be willing to compromise on features, settle for a different color, travel to access distant inventory or wait for factory orders to be fulfilled. For an easier vehicle search, focus on the categories, models and brands least detrimentally impacted by chip shortages outlined earlier. While shortages persist, adjust expectations and stay vigilant to take advantage of incoming inventory opportunities when they emerge.


The semiconductor chip shortage has significantly disrupted the automotive market, but not all vehicles have been affected equally. Older models, full-size trucks, EVs, mainstream crossovers and luxury vehicles have avoided the worst shortfalls thanks to supply chain separation, high demand, advanced orders and priority chip allocation. But smaller cars, mainstream sedans, niche models and the latest model years have borne the brunt of shortages. While the chip crisis persists through at least 2023, focusing on the less-affected vehicle categories can help buyers still find suitable options in today’s inventory-constrained environment.

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