China emerges as fastest-growing automotive MEMS market
China’s automotive MEMS market is expected to expand to USD 387.9 million in 2015, up from USD 194.3 million in 2010. This equates to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 14.8%—significantly higher than the worldwide average of 9.0%.”MEMS are a key enabling technology to improve the safety and reduce carbon emissions in motor vehicles,” said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. “With China’s car sales booming and its sensor usage soaring, the country’s automotive MEMS market is set for world-leading growth through the year 2015.”Car market gets back in gearThe expansion of the global automotive MEMS market is being fueled by a revived passenger vehicle industry, which is projected to rebound from the economic slump. Production of passenger cars for the Chinese market is set to increase to 22.2 million units in 2015, up from 16.3 million in 2010.Overall, China will remain the world’s third biggest user of automotive MEMS sensors during the five-year period, ahead of Japan and a collection of countries under the designation “Rest of the World.” North America will continue to lead the space, followed by Europe.Global automotive MEMS revenue is forecast to hit $2.9 billion in 2015, up more than 50 percent from $1.9 billion in 2010. China’s profile is rising in automotive MEMS because the country is playing catch-up in both safety applications for vehicles and in emissions-related purposes.Sensors spread in ChinaCompared to the worldwide average number of sensors per car at 9.2 in 2010, vehicles in China have five. But China’s number will double to 10 by 2015, accelerated by the increased deployment of airbags and tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).TPMS systems alone command the use of 4.2 automotive MEMS units per car.The use of basic engine sensors to lower carbon emissions in cars also will be a factor contributing to automotive MEMS growth in China, especially as the country adopts European regulations.Expanding opportunities in airbags, tire pressure MEMSCurrently the largest automotive MEMS applications in terms of unit shipments are airbags, followed by silicon MEMS manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensors needed for engine management. However, TPMS will outpace airbags in 2015.One other application, electronic stability control to help prevent skidding in vehicles, is currently underpenetrated in China and will remain so unless there is a government mandate.Within China’s TPMS segment, suppliers of MEMS pressure sensors can look forward to good news ahead, IHS believes. Already, official government recommendations have set a national standard in China for TPMS, which should have come into effect during July but will ramp up in mid-2012. China is adopting TPMS ahead of Japan with an eye to the practical benefits that can be derived: The feature in vehicles not only saves lives but affects the environment, as correct tire pressure results in better mileage and less carbon emissions.China’s prominent role in implementing TPMS for its vehicles will accelerate the global TPMS market to a fitment rate of 73% by 2015.By next year, more high-end vehicle models in China will be equipped with TPMS ahead of other mandates, such as adaptive front headlights, brake assist and adaptive cruise control, IHS research indicates.Bosch leads China’s MEMS marketThe most prominent player in the Chinese automotive MEMS sector is German manufacturer Bosch GmbH, whose MAP shipments to the country soared in 2010. Bosch also has cemented a deal with Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor Inc. to offer an airbag reference platform to help newly rising markets in the Asian region.Prior to 2010, a high-profile deal had been sealed between Analog Devices Inc. and Infineon Technologies to provide sensors and other semiconductors needed for an airbag hardware design platform, which sought to reduce the time-to-market efforts of Tier 1 companies in what was then the emerging market of China.