Semiconductor shortages are here to stay – at least for now – with Volkswagen Australia boss suggesting it’s 18 months until supply returns to normal
Volkswagen Australia recently announced several special edition grades designed to skirt deleterious semiconductor chip shortages affecting wait times for new cars.
The new VW special editions build on the Tiguan Allspace Adventure 162TSI grade ($51,990 before on-road costs) announced in July 2022, which pairs a relatively modest specification of Tiguan fitout to the popular, high-output 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo engine.
Because the semiconductor-special Adventure sports a smaller 8.0-inch touchscreen than the more opulently-equipped Elegance and R-Line specs, it can be built in a shorter timeframe. Manual seats, likewise, are able to be built sooner than chip-heavy power seats.
It’s a similar situation with the other new special edition cars Volkswagen will soon bring to Australia: all are designed to save on precious semiconductors, so they can be built more quickly.
There are 300 examples of T-Roc R ($54,300) and Tiguan R ($63,990) Grid editions coming to Australia soon, with their manual tailgates, manual seats and cloth upholstery all optimised to ensure they can actually be made. Soon.
There’s no getting away from the fact that these vehicles have less content than range-topping examples Australian buyers love. But Volkswagen is at least giving those who want it, the choice to get into a sporty SUV sooner.
The big thing Volkswagen executives are pushing is transparency. Speaking to Chasing Cars late last month Volkswagen Australia managing director, Michal Szaniecki, was enthused that around 9000 VWs are on their way to Australia for the rest of 2022.
Mr Szaniecki said that with these cars on their way, “for now until the end of the year, demand will be satisfied. Our numbers suggest that the first quarter [of 2023] will also be secure.”
When pressed on supply improvements, Szaniecki answered “12 months [September 2023] is going to be still limited supply because of the situation with semiconductors across many industries, including us.”
Szaniecki sees light at the end of the tunnel, indicating in around 18-24 months supply should improve, echoing what Skoda Australia brand director Michael Irmer told Chasing Cars last month.
Volkswagen is essentially offering customers two options: wait longer for the full-fat R and high-spec core grades of Tiguan and Golf – or grab a ‘reduced-fat’ example sooner with less equipment, at least while stocks last.
The latest run of special editions released by the brand in Australia illustrate this perfectly. The Tiguan and T-Roc R Grid bring back the nameplate used on the Golf R hatch and wagon in 2018.
In 2018, the Grid models were not designed to save delivery time in a supply-constrained environment, but were simply enthusiast-focussed editions of VW’s popular sporty Golf.
The Grid badge itself is an Australian invention and not simply renamed copies of variants sold elsewhere in the globe, but rather ones with input from VW’s local arm.
This is because Australian buyers typically demand more safety, technology and luxury features than other markets. Therefore the Grid editions aren’t about culling all semiconductors, rather balancing what is and isn’t needed for a variant to be successful.
For example, both T-Roc and Tiguan R Grid ditch electric adjustment, heating and leather upholstery in favour of sporty buckets. Blind-spot monitoring, electric tailgate and Matrix LED headlights are also taken off the menu.
Yet technology such as wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, active LED headlights and adaptive dampers remain, as does the AWD system and same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol firepower as full-fat R models.
Another example is the T-Roc small SUV, which will lose rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and extended occupant protection for 2023 coinciding with a $650 price reduction. Buyers will be able to wait for the safety gear if they wish.
This naturally depends on the model, variant and location. In an effort to be transparent, Volkswagen lists all current stock on its Australian website. If in doubt, or for more location specific information, contact your preferred dealer.
Volkswagen executives did cite a 12-month wait (at time of writing) for the 235kW Golf R hyper hatch in Australia and a similar delay for a new Tiguan R. There are no plans to introduce a Grid edition of Golf as has been done with T-Roc and Tiguan yet, but the situation is constantly evolving.
Volkswagen has effectively secured another 300 examples of Tiguan and T-Roc R respectively with the Grid editions. Meanwhile the Tiguan Monochrome editions will likely add around 1000 units to supply when they arrive in December.
Lower stock models include Golf small car and Tiguan midsize SUV, though there are still some to be found at dealers.
Custom or new build cars will attract a wait time. Speaking to dealers, high grades of popular models such as Tiguan 162 TSI R-Line and Elegance are commanding between 9-12 months wait at time of writing.
As always, your local dealer will be best-placed to answer more specific questions.
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