The problem with chips

posted in: Life and things | 0

We’ve been home from our France trip for about five weeks now. We’ve both had lingering coughs and are still feeling lethargic, probably left overs from covid. But life goes on. We’ve finally received our new Rav 4 which we ordered after our 3-week-old Pajero sport was stolen from our garage about a year ago. Read all about that here. The supply lines for cars were, and still are, long, and people are paying top dollar for second-hand cars.

There are multiple reasons for delays in delivering new cars but THE major reason is problems in obtaining computer chips. Being a mechanic isn’t what it used to be. These days, the average grease monkey spends a lot of time checking readouts on a computer screen. The thing is, to build the car you have to have the chips, which principally come from South Korea, Taiwan – and China.

We had to wait a year for a new Toyota – but we could have walked over the road to the MG dealership and picked up a new car at a cheap price, and no waiting. Or maybe a Haval or an LDV or whatever else GWM is selling. (That’s Great Wall Motors, by the way.) But Pete and I have a policy of avoiding buying ‘made in China’ wherever possible. For lots of reasons.

Here’s one. US and UK warships with Chinese chips appear to be at risk.

Now we read that “according to a report from POLITICO, Russia has been looking to acquire Western semiconductors that are built by Nexperia. Nexperia is a subsidiary of Chinese technology company Wingtech, which purchased the UK’s largest microchip factory, the Newport Wafer Fab in Wales.” [source]

Nexperia chips have reportedly been found in a Russian missile recovered from the battlefield in Ukraine. The sale of the Welsh company to Nexperia hasn’t been ratified yet – the deal is being scrutinised by the UK Government due to security concerns. How very wise.

But back to cars.

I wonder what would happen if somebody in China could press a button, causing the immediate failure of chips in (say) MGs? Remember that fault in Volkswagen cars that caused them to stop without warning?

“Melissa Ryan, 32, was killed in January 2011 when her 2008 Volkswagen Golf appeared to suddenly stop on the right lane of the freeway, and a truck hit her car from behind. The truck driver told the inquest he did not see brake lights, and the car appeared to suddenly stop.” [source]

Many other Volkswagen drivers subsequently came forward to report similar instances. I’m not suggesting that this is more than a fault in Volkswagen’s manufacturing – but the point is made. Cars stopping suddenly can be dangerous. It wouldn’t be so difficult to design a chip with an extra feature that does nothing until it’s triggered.

It’s not a new idea. Peter read a series of books presenting just such a scenario. Here’s the blurb from Book 1.

At exactly midnight on December 31, every electronic device made in China for the last 30 years stops working!

From the U.S. electrical grid and all its back-ups, engine control-management systems, early warning systems on U.S. satellites, every motor vehicle, aircraft and ship made after 1985, to even simple memory chips inside children’s teddy bears—every electronic fuse, resistor, or connector that was “Made in China” becomes dormant… forever.

At one minute past midnight on January 1st, every modern television broadcast of the U.S. New Year’s Eve festivities on the East Coast black-out. Millions of motor vehicles with an engine management system or engine-computerized system suddenly die, causing loss of control and thousands of accidents only seconds into the New Year. Traffic lights, directional beacons, communication stations, and all aircraft landing systems black out a couple of minutes later, as their modern back-ups start failing. Children’s Christmas presents, nearly forgotten, stop buzzing, moving, and blinking and go silent. Radios, computers, and all forms of electronic communication devices—even the latest 132 million electronic Christmas presents given only a week earlier (iPhone 5Gs, IPod Nano 4s, IMac Notepads and iPad 3s) go silent, never to blink on again. Ninety seconds after midnight, the entire electrical grid of North America deactivates itself and goes into close-down mode.

The shutdown of the United States of America, and 97% of the entire world, is accomplished by 12:30 am U.S. Eastern time on the first day of the New Year.

It takes only 30 minutes to completely dismantle the whole of modern Western civilization.


There are four books in the series Invasion USA. The second edition of the first book was published in July 2011. Maybe M Wade gave the Chinese ideas?

Find the books at Amazon and at Smashwords and possibly at other retailers. The first book is FREE.

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