Electronic Design

Strong Forecasts Bolster Automotive Safety And Control IC Market

The market outlook for automotive safety and control ICs is rosy, according to several market research firms—particularly for sensors and microcontroller units (MCUs). For example, Frost & Sullivan says global revenues for meeting mandated automotive active safety requirements will reach $21.3 billion in 2012, up from $13 billion in 2006, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8%.

According to iSuppli Corp., worldwide shipments of MEMS sensors will grow to 935.7 million units by 2012, up from 474.2 million units in 2006, a CAGR of 12%. It also predicts global auto MEMS sensor revenue will grow to $2.1 billion in 2012, up from $1.3 billion in 2006, a CAGR of 8%.

Gartner Inc. says that this year’s worldwide market for automotive MCUs is on pace to total $5.3 billion by the end of the year. It’s projected to reach $6.3 billion by 2012. Many of these MCUs, particularly high-end 32-bit units, will be used more frequently for improved fuel economy in hybrid electric vehicles that combine electric engines with gascombustion engines. The blending of power between these two engines requires computer control and complex software provided by higher-performance 32-bit MCUs with more embedded memory.

Frost & Sullivan also forecasts that the European market for electronic control units (ECUs) for automotive powertrains will grow at a rate of 10.9% over the next seven years.

“We expect that the initiative of the European Automotive Manufacturers Association (ACEA) to reduce carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions will significantly drive the demand for innovative hybrid drive and transmission technologies such as double-clutch transmissions and automated manual transmissions,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst Aswin Kumar. “At the same time, the European Union Commission’s efforts to reduce the number of traffic casualties by 50% will drive demand for accident-prevention systems and other safety-relevant systems.”

All of this will stimulate the demand for greater number-crunching power in the ECUs used for motor control and exhaust-treatment applications.

As for automotive radar chips, the potential market appears to be significant. It’s been pegged by many at $2 billion by 2010. Strategy Analytics predicts that by 2011, the demand for radar chips will grow 65% annually to 3 million units, with 2.3 million of them being used in cars. And by 2014, 7% of all new cars will include a distance warning system, primarily in Europe and Japan.

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