The ongoing semiconductor shortage continues to interrupt supply chains and slow production lines all over the globe.

    One tactic employed by car manufacturers to keep factories rolling has been the removal of certain features that use these computer chips, often related to infotainment or audio systems.

    We don’t tend to see passive safety being watered-down – until now.

    Peugeot Australia has removed side thorax airbags from its Expert mid-sized van for the MY22 model year. Airbags are triggered by semiconductors programmed to detect abrupt vehicle deceleration.

    This change excludes the Limited Edition Expert Sport variant.

    It has also deleted adaptive cruise control and replaced it with a simpler passive (or standard) cruise control system.

    At the same time, it has also increased the Expert’s pricing for MY22 by between $1950 and $2250 over the equivalent MY21 range.

    This controversial decision takes on added resonance when you consider that van drivers often spend more time at the wheel than most other road users, and therefore are arguably more at risk of accidents.

    Most mid-sized vans have side airbags – either head-protecting, or thorax protection, or both – although the (far cheaper) more popular LDV G10 from China forgoes them and only offers front airbags.

    MORE: How good are the active safety systems in your van?

    A look at the revised Expert spec sheet on the Peugeot website shows remaining safety features include driver and passenger front airbags and autonomous emergency braking – all bar the base City Short Manual variant.

    “The global automotive industry faces an exceptional situation with the accumulation of the health crisis and a worldwide shortage of semiconductors,” said a Peugeot release.

    “Our global teams are mobilised to drive our manufacturing activity in this unstable context, and we need to adapt accordingly.

    “Despite our continuous effort to deliver our customers the best possible experience, and in order to help minimise the impact on vehicle availability, there has been an adjustment in the specification of the MY22 Peugeot Expert LCV range.”

    The van market:

    Booming online retail and subsequent deliveries helped drive record sales of mid-sized vans in Australia – the bread-and-butter part of the market home to top-sellers like the Toyota HiAce, as well as the Expert.

    VFACTS sales data shows that the 2.5-tonne to 3.5-tonne GVM (that means the maximum allowable weight of the van and its load) van market accounted for 25,983 sales in 2021.

    That’s the record for this segment since it was created in 2010.

    ModelSalesMarket share
    Toyota Hiace Van9,72637.4%
    LDV G10/G10+3,30612.7%
    Ford Transit Custom2,4889.6%
    Hyundai iLoad2,4469.4%
    Renault Trafic2,0938.1%
    Mitsubishi Express1,7806.9%
    Volkswagen Transporter1,7276.6%
    Mercedes-Benz Vito9963.8%
    Hyundai Staria Load6112.4%
    LDV V805532.1%
    Peugeot Expert2571.0%

    MORE: Staggering impact of semiconductor shortage on car industry revealed

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers