In November 2021, General Motors Canada sold many vehicles without some of their most popular features, which couldn't be installed due to the microchip shortage. GM promised that it would retrofit those features when they became available again. AutoTrader has confirmed that owners of Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC vehicles can now get the climate-controlled seats and heated steering wheels installed that were cut as a casualty of the microchip shortage.
As early as mid-2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of production issues led to a worldwide shortage of the semiconductors and microchips needed to build consumer electronics. The auto industry was affected in a major way and the shortages led to massive vehicle production cuts that are still ongoing.
Early on, automakers simply paused production if they couldn't get enough microchips. Vehicles simply didn't get built or they were partially assembled and then parked to wait for components.
As these pauses dragged on, automakers looked at alternative solutions. In late 2021, General Motors made the decision to keep production going by removing some features and selling the vehicles as-is. Some of the features that were cut included some that customers probably wouldn't notice, like steering wheel locks, along with others that customers definitely wanted like heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel.
In exchange for the missing features, GM Canada removed an amount from the price of the vehicle (usually $50 per item and $25 for the heated steering wheel) and promised that when the supply chain stabilized, customers would get the missing features. Dealers would be able to retrofit the parts, and there would be no charge to the customer.
Nearly all of GM's lineup was affected from late 2021 through late 2022, including the Chevrolet Equinox, Silverado, and Traverse, GMC Sierra and Acadia, Buick Enclave, Encore GX, and Envision, and the Cadillac XT4, XT5, and XT6 models. Affected vehicles should have three-character option codes starting with 00 on their window sticker (along with an associated credit) to indicate a missing feature.
The retrofits have now started, a GM spokesperson confirmed to AutoTrader.
"As of December 15, 2022, GM began to retrofit heated and ventilated seats as well as heated steering wheels on all GM vehicles except a small population of Buick Envisions that will be eligible for retrofit in Q1 2023," we were told in an email.
General Motors will notify customers directly that they are eligible to begin the retrofit of their vehicle, instructing them to make an appointment with their dealer. GM Canada said that dealers will also be sent lists of all of their eligible customers and are expected to call those customers to let them know. There has been no word on how long the wait will be, though we expect high demand for the retrofits until at least the end of winter.
So if you've been staring longingly this winter at the non-functional heated seat or steering wheel button in your new GM vehicle, a solution may be close at hand. A hand that will be much warmer than it was last winter, at least while you're driving.