Despite slower growth for the automotive industry and exchange rate fluctuations, the automotive semiconductor market grew at a modest 0.2 percent year over year, reaching $29 billion in 2015, according to IHS (NYSE: IHS), a global source of critical information and insight.
A flurry of mergers and acquisitions last year caused the competitive landscape to shift, including the merger of NXP and Freescale, which created the largest automotive semiconductor supplier in 2015 with a market share of 14.3 percent, IHS said. The acquisition of International Rectifier (IR) helped Infineon overtake Renesas to secure the second-ranked position, with a market share of 9.8 percent. Renesas slipped to third-ranked position in 2015, with a market share of 9.1 percent, followed by STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.
“The acquisition of Freescale by NXP created a powerhouse for the automotive market. NXP increased its strength in automotive infotainment systems, thanks to the robust double-digit growth of its i.MX processors,” said Ahad Buksh, automotive semiconductor analyst for IHS Technology. “NXP’s analog integrated circuits also grew by double digits, thanks to the increased penetration rate of keyless-entry systems and in-vehicle networking technologies.”
NXP will now target the machine vision and sensor fusion markets with the S32V family of processors for autonomous functions, according to the IHS Automotive Semiconductor Intelligence Service Even on the radar front, NXP now has a broad portfolio of long- and mid-range silicon-germanium (SiGe) radar chips, as well as short-range complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) radar chips under development. “The fusion of magnetic sensors from NXP, with pressure and inertial sensors from Freescale, has created a significant sensor supplier,” Buksh said.
The inclusion of IR, and a strong presence in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), hybrid electric vehicles and other growing applications helped Infineon grow 5.5 percent in 2015. Infineon’s 77 gigahertz (GHz) radar system integrated circuit (RASIC) chip family strengthened its position in ADAS. Its 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) solutions, based on TriCore architectures, reinforced the company’s position in the powertrain and chassis and safety domains.
The dollar-to-yen exchange rate worked against the revenue ranking for Renesas for the third consecutive year. A major share of Renesas business is with Japanese customers, which is primarily conducted in yen. Even though Renesas’ automotive semiconductor revenue fell 12 percent, when measured in dollars, the revenue actually grew by about 1 percent in yen. Renesas’ strength continues to be its MCU solutions, where the company is still the leading supplier globally.
STMicroelectronics’ automotive revenue declined 2 percent year over year; however, a larger part of the decline can be attributed to the lower exchange rate of the Euro against the U.S. dollar in 2015, which dropped 20 percent last year. STMicroelectronics’ broad- based portfolio and its presence in every growing automotive domain of the market helped the company maintain its revenue as well as it did. Apart from securing multiple design wins with American and European automotive manufacturers, the company is also strengthening its relationships with Chinese auto manufacturers. Radio and navigation solutions from STMicroelectronics were installed in numerous new vehicle models in 2015.
Texas Instruments has thrived in the automotive semiconductor market for the fourth consecutive year. Year-over-year revenue increased by 16.6 percent in 2015. The company’s success story is not based on any one particular vehicle domain. In fact, while all domains have enjoyed double-digit increases, infotainment, ADAS and hybrid-electric vehicles were the primary drivers of growth.
Other suppliers making inroads in automotive
After the acquisition of CSR, Qualcomm rose from its 42nd ranking in year 2014, to become the 20th largest supplier of automotive semiconductors in 2015. Qualcomm has a strong presence in cellular baseband solutions, with its Snapdragon and Gobi processors; while CSR’s strength lies in wireless application ICs — especially for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Qualcomm is now the sixth largest supplier of semiconductors in the infotainment domain.
Moving from 83rd position in 2011 to 37th in 2015, nVidia has used its experience, and its valuable partnership with Audi, to gain momentum in the automotive market. The non-safety critical status of the infotainment domain was a logical stepping stone to carve out a position in the automotive market, but now the company is also moving toward ADAS and other safety applications. The company has had particular success with its Tegra processors.
Due to the consolidation of Freescale, Osram entered the top-10 ranking of automotive suppliers for the first time in 2015. Osram is the global leader in automotive lighting and has enjoyed double-digit growth over the past three years, thanks to the increasing penetration of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in new vehicles.