Biggest auto MEMS maker, biggest growth in 2011


Bosch GmbH Automotive Electronics of Germany retained its position as the world's top supplier of automotive MEMS in 2011, according to IHS.

Overall, 2011 revenue for automotive MEMS sensors amounted to $2.24 billion, up 14% despite a disrupted supply chain in the aftermath of natural disasters last year in Japan and Thailand Expansion in the next two years will be driven by government mandates in the US and Europe for electronic stability control (ESC) and tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

The automotive MEMS Top 10 enjoyed combined revenues in 2011 of more than $2.0 billion, up 11%. The top 10 comprised 91% of the market.

Booking $625 million in revenue last year, Bosch's 19% expansion outpaced the growth of the automotive MEMS industry as a whole. It was also $339 million ahead of the #2 supplier, Denso Corp., which grew 9% to post revenue of $286 million in 2011.

"Bosch's success last year can be credited to its internal captive market, which promoted stable revenue and visibility into future demand for the company," said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. "Bosch is the No. 1 supplier overall in MEMS sensor shipments for ESC systems in vehicles; as well as supplying the highest combined total of related automotive MEMS sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and pressure sensors. Bosch's performance was also boosted by a rapidly growing airbag market in China, along with a surge in demand for frontal and side airbags in the United States."

Denso is the major supplier in its domestic Japanese market, with a diverse customer base that includes almost half of Toyota's auto MEMS business. Denso reported heavy declines in sales in Q2 2011 after Japan's 3/11 earthquake-tsunami disaster, but recouped its losses during the next quarter. Denso is a top supplier of MEMS sensors of automotive heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as satellite airbag accelerometers and oil-pressure sensors. The company's growth during the last two years has been relatively subdued compared to the rest of the auto MEMS market, because an overly strong yen against the US dollar hindered exports.

Moving up a spot to #3 in 2011 was Panasonic, with revenue of $202 million, up 12%. Most of Panasonic's sales came from its automotive gyroscope business, reflecting a narrower focus compared to that of the leading two companies. However, Panasonic is the undisputed leader in in-dash navigation gyroscopes and ranks a very close second to Bosch in gyroscopes needed for ESC systems. The two devices are the highest-priced components in the automotive MEMS space. Panasonic is no longer the sole supplier of yaw rate sensors to European Tier-1 Continental, and in the future will see increased competition from VTI on combo-packaged inertial sensors for ESC systems.

Freescale Semiconductor dropped down one place to #4 with automotive MEMS revenue of $191 million, in a near tie with #5 Sensata. Freescale is the leading supplier of satellite airbag accelerometers, even though it temporarily lost share in that market with earthquake damage at its Sendai, Japan facility. Sensata concentrates MEMS production on pressure sensors, and is #1 in high-pressure applications like brake and common fuel rail sensing, using its silicon piezoresistive sensors that are glass-bonded to steel substrates. Sensata also had the second-highest yearly growth rate of 24%.

Among the remaining Top 10, growth ranged from 3% at Delphi to 36% for VTI, thanks to VTI's strong position in ESC accelerometers. Infineon and Analog Devices Inc. joined Bosch, Sensata and VTI in recording growth rates higher than the industry average, while GE Sensing had slightly below-average expansion of 12%.

Fuji Electric fell just outside the top 10, with overall revenue of $30 million.

Learn more about this topic with the IHS iSuppli report entitled: "Fat Years Ahead for Automotive MEMS Sensors."???M.C

Solid State Technology, Volume 55, Issue 6, July 2012

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