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Date: 29-09-13

ST, Freescale, and NXP; top 3 of China automotive semicon market

IHS has ranked ST Microelectronics, Freescale Semiconductor and NXP as top three semiconductor vendors in China automotive electronics market, with revenues of $234 million, $212 million and $208 million, respectively.

IHS forecasts automotive semiconductor market in China is set to grow 10 percent by year-end of 2013, double the expansion rate of 2012. IHS finds China’s automotive-related semiconductor consumption will generate revenue worth $4.1 billion this year, up from $3.8 billion in 2012.

The other key findings disclosed by IHS includes:

The next four years will continue to bring about robust growth as increases range from 9 to 12 percent, culminating in 2017 revenue of $6.1 billion.

China’s automotive semiconductor market is projected to enjoy stronger growth this year because of a pronounced boost in the country’s replacement cycle for midrange and high-end vehicles. Moreover, consumer demand for automobiles is rising in smaller Chinese cities, and vehicle features for safety, infotainment and heightened driver experience are also spurring increased semiconductor content in cars.

Overall, Chinese light-vehicle sales have been experiencing higher growth than in some of the major automotive markets around the word, such as the United States or Western Europe. Sales in China of light vehicles including commercial and passenger cars have never dipped lower than 8 percent growth every year since 2003, benefiting from dynamic economy and a still-growing population.

Nonetheless, the Chinese vehicle market will eventually have to face a slowdown in demand, especially as stricter policies start to be enforced over the next few years for vehicle emissions, fuel efficiency and upgraded safety. Microprocessors, sensors and semiconductors related to the powertrain will continue to play a necessary role in China automotive chip growth, IHS believes, and applications that enhance the driving experience will remain a selling point for high-end customers.

Main drivers identified: Infotainment was the largest contributor last year to automotive chip revenue for vehicles in China, most evident in the areas of navigation, audio, video, gaming and communications. Infotainment revenue alone in 2012 reached $1.1 billion—more than a quarter of the market total.

After infotainment the main drivers of automotive chip consumption last year were semiconductors for power train as well as safety and control, necessitating the use of chips worth anywhere from $50 to $100 apiece. Such semiconductors included microcontrollers, memory, logic, analog-based chips and sensors—all deployed to make Chinese vehicles safer, more efficient and more reliable.

Local manufacturers have also been more involved in the business. For instance, 55 percent of infotainment systems in Chinese cars were designed by domestic players last year, and local design teams also figured prominently in vehicle security and comfort-convenience design features.

In contrast, powertrain-related functions ranked near the bottom of the list, with foreign expertise preferred.

ST Microelectronics, NXP, Renesas and Freescale were all strong in infotainment, while ST Microelectronics and Infineon from Germany were at the top for power semiconductors used in engine control, motor drivers and power switches.

For microcontrollers, the most important players were ST Microelectronics, Freescale, Infineon and Renesas, all of them engaged in applications for body control and safety.

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