The growth rate for vehicle shipments in China is slowing, but more and better performing semiconductors will still be required in automotive applications in the coming years. Total automotive semiconductor revenue in China reached $5.6 billion in 2014, and revenues are expected to grow nearly 11 percent year over year in 2015 to reach $6.2 billion. Semiconductors used in automotive powertrains, infotainment and body-convenience electronic systems are the primary drivers of revenue growth, according to IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), a global source of critical information and insight.
“There is increasing auto industry focus on power efficiency and green energy, as well as the pursuit of greater safety and a better overall driving experience,” said Alex Liu, semiconductors and components analyst for IHS. “For that reason, more and higher performance semiconductors will be required in automotive applications, like direct injection systems in power engines, advanced driver assistance systems and safety applications.”
According to the latest IHS Automotive Semiconductor Report — China, the leading automotive semiconductor company in 2014 was Freescale, based on bill-to China sales, with 15.5 percent of the market. Freescale is strong in the microcontroller and processor market, with products that are widely used in automotive powertrains, automotive bodies, and safety and infotainment systems. Freescale was followed by STMicroelectronics, with 14 percent of the 2014 market in China, and NXP Semiconductors, with 12 percent of the market.
Local automotive design market revenue in China was estimated to reach $1.5 billion in 2014, led by the automotive infotainment category, which includes car radios and navigation systems. IHS expects that the total local design market in China will grow at a 13 percent compound rate from 2014 to 2019.
“Local Chinese companies are strong in the automotive aftermarket, because they have a price advantage, require less time to market and have more flexible design processes than their non-local competitors,” Liu said. “With the accumulation of technical knowledge, and close ties to original equipment manufacturers, some local players have also gradually entered the applications market. They provide semiconductors for low-end auto-body electronic applications where quality and reliability are less critical, such as parking assistance in advanced driver assistance systems and automotive infotainment.”