By Paul Lienert
(Reuters) -General Motors aims to tackle the global semiconductor shortage with new designs built in North America, President Mark Reuss said on Thursday.
Reuss told an investor conference GM is working with seven chip suppliers on three new families of microcontrollers that will reduce the number of unique chips by 95% on future vehicles.
The supplier partners include Qualcomm, STM, TSMC, Renesas, NXP, Infineon and ON Semi, he said.
Most of GM's future investment in the new microcontroller families "will flow to the U.S. and Canada," Reuss said.
Vehicle manufacturers around the world have been coping much of the year with shortages of semiconductor chips that control everything from heated seats to infotainment systems.
Those shortages in some cases have caused GM and other automakers to build, then park unfinished vehicles until missing chips finally arrive and can be installed. In other cases, vehicles are being delivered to customers without some of the usual features.
"We see our semiconductor requirements more than doubling over the new few years," with the arrival of new electric vehicles and complex driver assistance systems such as UltraCruise, Reuss said.
The new microcontrollers will consolidate many of the functions now handled by individual chips, which not only will reduce cost and complexity, but "will drive quality and predictability," he said.
The new microcontrollers will be built in high volume -- as much as 10 million units a year, Reuss said.
A GM spokesperson told Reuters that the company is "trying to develop an ecosystem that is much more resilient, more scalable and always there to meet our needs."
Earlier Thursday, Ford Motor Co and chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries Inc said they plan to work together to boost supplies for the automaker's vehicles and the broader U.S. auto industry.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert in DetroitEditing by Nick Zieminski)