Automotive semiconductor market sees major shift

March 14, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In the booming global market for automotive semiconductors, the cards have been shuffled anew. The pole position is now occupied by Renesas. Long-standing leader Freescale has dramatically fallen behind.

According to market researcher Semicast, in 2010 Renesas Electronics was the leading supplier of semiconductors to the automotive sector, ahead of Infineon Technologies. Freescale Semiconductor, for many years the leading supplier of automotive semiconductors, dropped to fourth place behind STMicroelectronics, while Bosch gained one place to move up to fifth.

Semicast's automotive semiconductor market share analysis ranks Renesas Electronics as the leading supplier in 2010, with an estimated market share of 11.0%. Renesas Electronics, which was formed on 1 April 2010 following the merger of Renesas Technology and NEC Electronics, held a substantial lead over the second placed supplier, Infineon Technologies, which in 2010 had an estimated market share of 7.9%. STMicroelectronics moved up one notch to third largest supplier, with a share of 7.7%, substantially ahead of Freescale, with a market share of only 5.8%. Overall, the list of suppliers making up the top ten leading positions was unchanged from 2009.

2010 was the strongest year on record for the automotive semiconductor market, with sales increasing by an estimated 37% to USD 22.7 billion, up from USD 16.6 billion in 2009. Colin Barnden, Principal Analyst at Semicast Research and study author, commented “Automotive semiconductor sales are now at record levels, having surpassed the previous peak of USD 20.0 billion in 2007 and growth is set to continue, with sales of automotive semiconductors forecast to total USD 39 billion in 2017”.

China remains one of the most significant growth drivers of the automotive sector, with light vehicle production in China totaling almost 15 million units in 2010, double the level of 2008. Growth in China strongly pushed ahead light vehicle production volumes in 2010. According to Semicast, production increased 24% to 71.3 million units, up from 57.6 million vehicles in 2009.

Barnden reiterated that the trend towards hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles will to offer substantial new revenue opportunities for semiconductor suppliers, with production of hybrid vehicles forecast to