Automotive industry drives chip demand

November 19, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Among all major end use-applications for integrated circuits, the automotive market exposes the strongest growth, finds market researcher IC Insight in a study to be released later this month. For the entire time frame covered by the study - until 2018 - this situation won't change.

IC Insights compared the six most significant end-user markets for integrated circuits. These are computer, consumer, communications, automotive, industrial / medical, and government / defense. During the time frame until 2018, the IC demand from automotive customers is expected to exhibit the strongest average annual growth - 10.8% at average. This is significantly higher than the communications industry at the second place (6.8%).

The computer market, once the IC growth driver per se, apparently is approaching saturation status - with 3.3% CAGR it shows the lowest growth of all segments (albeit certainly at a very high sales level). In contrast, automotive chip demand is still growing from a smaller base. While a high semiconductor content in earlier years was associated to the luxury class, higher quantities of chips are installed now in vehicles of all categories. Demand drivers are safety features that increasingly are becoming mandatory such as backup cameras or eCall, but also driver assistant systems are becoming ubiquitous. Future drivers will be connectivity, including vehicle-to-vehicle communications as well as sensors and controllers necessary for various degrees of autonomous driving.

IC Insight's market researchers expect the total automotive market to grow 15% to a volume of $21.7 billion in 2014, compared to a mere 1% increase registered in the past year. In the years ahead, a major geographical shift is expected: Since China in the meantime has become the world's largest market for passenger cars and these cars are increasingly being built locally, Asia-Pacific will surpass Europe as the largest market for automotive chips, beginning in 2016. It is also forecast that with a CAGR of 20% this geography will be the strongest region for the automotive IC market throughout 2020. The digitisation and computerisation of all automotive domains will leave their traces in the market: The market for memory chips will grow much faster than average - it actually is expected to more than double from 2014 to