Automotive semiconductor market to grow from $20 billion in 2010 to $39 billion in 2017 – Semicast

Microelectronics International

ISSN: 1356-5362

Article publication date: 10 May 2011



(2011), "Automotive semiconductor market to grow from $20 billion in 2010 to $39 billion in 2017 – Semicast", Microelectronics International, Vol. 28 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Automotive semiconductor market to grow from $20 billion in 2010 to $39 billion in 2017 – Semicast

Article Type: Industry news From: Microelectronics International, Volume 28, Issue 2

The market research company Semicast predicts strong growth for chips and power semiconductors in the automotive market. Main demand drivers are the continued pervasion of electronics into almost all vehicle systems. The highest growth will be seen in the powertrain segment.

According to Semicast, the market volume for automotive semiconductors will almost double during the timeframe between 2010 and 2017: from $20 to $39 billion on a global basis. This translates into an average growth rate of almost 20 per cent.

In its report “Automotive Market for Semiconductors – 2011 Edition”, Semicast denotes the sharp decline in 2009 as an “anomaly”. The market for automotive chips normally grows with “remarkable consistency”, the report says.

The current uptrend in automotive semiconductor demand is directly attributed to the extremely strong growth in light vehicle production in the emerging markets, particularly in China. Other geographies with increasing demand for cars are Brazil, Russia and India; also the market in North America has recovered, observes Semicast principal analyst Colin Barnden. In China alone, light vehicle production will double from 10 million units in 2010 to 20 million units in 2017.

In the long term, the demand for semiconductors for cars will exceed the production rate for light cars. In other words, the vehicles will contain a growing semiconductor content: while the production of light vehicle production is forecasted to climb by 3 per cent annually, the production of the related semiconductors will rise at a rate of 8 per cent per year.

There are several sources that feed this trend. The cars need to become more environmentally friendly, Barnden says. This can be achieved by electronic controls that improve the overall fuel efficiency. Other demand drivers are safety and mobile connectivity as well as infotainment and navigation where increasingly sophisticated solutions will be seen.

The rise of hybrid electric and battery EVs is forecast to offer “substantial new revenue opportunities for semiconductor suppliers”, Barnden added: according to the market researcher, production of hybrid vehicles will rise from three million in 2010 to 47 million in 2017. Driven by this electrification, the powertrain sector is forecast to grow fastest overall for OE automotive semiconductors and to have the highest revenue growth over the period 2010-2017. Demand for power discretes also will rise strongly, in-line with increased production of hybrid vehicles and EVs.

Among the semiconductor manufacturers, winners will be the specialist power semiconductor suppliers such as Fuji Electric, Infineon Technologies, Mitsubishi Electric and STMicroelectronics. Hybrid vehicles use power discretes extensively in the engine management system, to control the motor/generator units either when running from the hybrid powertrain, or when energy is being stored under braking. Powertrain systems are forecast to continue to rapidly adopt 32-bit MCUs while demand for 8-bit and 16-bit controllers will to decline rapidly. In general, engine control units have adopted 32-bit MCUs to meet ever more stringent emissions regulations, which is achieved through the use of increased sensor content and faster and higher performance controllers that react more quickly to changes in sensor data, thus maximizing engine efficiency and fuel economy.

Following the powertrain sector, next highest revenue growth for automotive semiconductors is forecast for OE entertainment systems. In-vehicle entertainment systems have witnessed an exceptional rise in complexity and functionality in just the last three years, as consumers have come to demand that the entertainment experience of the “digital home” also be present in the car.

Increasingly, this means systems which form the centerpiece of the digital home – such as DVD entertainment, musical jukeboxes and surround sound audio – are being transferred to the vehicle. iPod interfaces, hard disc drives and USB connectors are becoming an increasingly common sight in today’s cars. And, the 2011 CES held in Las Vegas earlier this month was electrified with announcements of in-vehicle wi-fi connectivity and cellular-based internet access, thereby placing the entertainment systems of tomorrow right at the heart of the “connected vehicle”.

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