Chip shortage: Ford to sell some Explorers without rear-seat temperature controls

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will sell some Explorer SUVs without rear temperature controls as part of a bid to complete transactions and get vehicles into customers' hands sooner amid the lingering global semiconductor shortage.

The number of vehicles this will apply to wasn't immediately clear, as Ford spokesperson Said Deep explained that it depends on the specifications of the Explorer being sold. Not all trim levels offer backseat control over heating and cooling. 

Explorers without the semiconductor chip-powered function could begin shipping to dealers as early as this week, according to Deep. Customers who are affected by the change would be offered an unspecified price reduction. Ford plans to have dealers install the components at a later date as chip supplies improve. In the meantime, heating and cooling for rear-seat passengers still will be available via controls in the driver's row.

The move follows a similar one Ford made last year with F-150 customers. To facilitate faster deliveries of the popular pickup truck, Ford offered to sell units at a discount without an automatic stop-start feature.

"It's all about getting vehicle to our customers sooner," said Deep.

Automotive News on Saturday first reported news of Ford's plan to ship and sell vehicles without some semiconductor-powered components for non-safety functions. The Detroit Free Press reported Sunday that Ford would ship Explorers without rear seat controls for temperature and ventilation.

Ford is not the only automaker to make such a move due to the chip shortage, which has hampered auto production worldwide for more than a year and severely curtailed new car output. As of Friday, the global automotive industry had lost more than 929,500 units of planned vehicle production this year, according to estimates from forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions.

General Motors Co., for example, temporarily removed the option for heated seats for much of its 2022 lineup, though the automaker said there would be a retrofit process to activate those modules at a later date. And, among numerous other examples across brands, electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. cut a steering component from some of its vehicles, CNBC reported last month.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski