Automotive IC market to outgrow all other segments, IC Insights says

February 24, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
During the current year, the market for automotive ICs will see a new all-time high. After the 45 percent growth spurt in 2010, the market will return to a less spectacular but still healthy growth of 12 percent, predicts market research company IC Insight. But the next decline is already in sight.

The breathtaking 45 percent surge in 2010 was caused mainly by the automotive OEMs reluctance to buy semiconductors in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, when demand for vehicles picked up, they had to refill their stocks. In 2011, the demand for cars is still strong, in particular in emerging markets. IC Insights expects the car shipments to add 5 percent to 55.8 million units in the current year, with China being the largest market through the middle of the decade.

As growth drivers for automotive chips, IC Insights regards safety, telematics and comfort systems: Assistant systems for self parking, active cruise control, lane departure warning, and ESC. The high content of sensors in the latter, by the way, will also spur the demand for sensor MEMS, in particular for gyroscopes, inertial sensors, and pressure sensors.

IC Insights also expects that consumer electronics technologies will enter the vehicles to a stronger extend: A large display on the center console will visualize the content received through internet interconnects. This head unit also will offer connectivity and communication services such as text messages and phone handling, and eventually it will replace the conventional radio/CD player/nav combo found in today's vehicles.

In contrast to industry experts such as Infineon's automotive manager Jochen Hanebeck, IC Insights does not expect that the electrification of the drive train will contribute significantly to the automotive IC market – at least for the next couple of years. For 2011, sales for electric and hybrid vehicles will grow a moderate 8 percent, the market gurus reckoned.

The market for car-related chips will grow to $20.9 billion in 2014, up from $15.4 billion in 2010. Thus, the market for automotive ICs with its CAGR of 14.4 percent will outgrow all other market segments including computer (11.7 percent), communications (8.1 percent), and consumer (10.6 %). Nevertheless, it looks like currently there is a minor bubble starting to develop. For 2013, IC Insights