raspberry pi 4

Chip shortages cause first Raspberry Pi price hike; automakers badly hit

Image credit: raspberry pi

The ongoing global semiconductor shortage has forced the first-ever price rise for the Raspberry Pi computer, whilst also obliging automakers to scale back production of high-tech vehicles.

The 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 will be increased in price from $35 to $45, having previously been reduced from $45 to $35 when the 1GB model was discontinued. Stock is especially limited for the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 and the miniature Raspberry Pi Zero.

“As many of you know, global supply chains are in a state of flux as we (hopefully) emerge from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said CEO Eben Upton. “In our own industry, semiconductors are in high demand and in short supply: the upsurge of demand for electronic products for home working and entertainment during the pandemic has descended into panic buying, as companies try to secure the components that they need to build their products.

“At Raspberry Pi, we are not immune to this […] we’ll only end up making around seven million units in 2021: pretty much exactly what we did in 2020. The result has been a shortage of some products, notably Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB variant of Raspberry Pi 4. We’re now expecting our supply chain challenges to continue through much of 2022.”

This marks the first time the Raspberry Pi Foundation has raised the price of its single-board computers. Upton has stated in a blog post that the price rise is only temporary and that the 1GB Raspberry Pi 4 will be reissued at $35. “This provides a degree of choice: less memory at the same price; or the same memory at a higher price,” he explained.

The shortage of semiconductors has been caused by several factors, including the coronavirus pandemic causing facilities to close temporarily or scale down production; a surge in demand for chips to support remote work and study, and the ongoing trade war between the US and China. All this has resulted in serious disruption for a range of industries. Many of the largest automakers, which are also grappling with the need to provide attractive and affordable electric models in the coming years and comply with new EU regulations capping CO2 emissions, are struggling as a result of the chip shortage.

According to a Reuters report, French automaker Renault is expecting to produce at least 300,000 fewer units this year. Three sources familiar with the matter shared figures starting around 300,000 and potentially rising to between 350,000 and 380,000. This is a much larger impact than the company expected, having previously forecast that 220,000 vehicles would be lost due to the chip shortage.

Volkswagen has produced 300,000 cars at its main Wolfsburg site this year, its lowest figure since 1958. The factory has averaged 780,000 units per year in the last decade, falling to just under 500,000 in 2020.

In recent days, it has also emerged that Audi is being forced to extend production stops due to the semiconductor shortage, keeping most of its assembly lines in its Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants at a standstill and others at reduced capacity. Czech automaker Skoda has started a reduction in output which could last far longer than its intended two weeks, while Maserati announced earlier this week that the chip shortage would delay the launch of its new Grecale SUV.

Leading figures in hardware have warned that chip supply issues could continue to bottleneck manufacturing for years.

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