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Automotive MEMS poised for 2010 rebound

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive MEMS? sensor? gyroscope?

The automotive MEMS sensor market is expected to rebound from a poor 2009 to grow 17.8 percent in 2010, according to market research firm iSuppli Corp. However, continued high sales could lead to an overheated market and could push the industry back into recession.

iSuppli predicts that global shipments of automotive MEMS sensors will reach 591.2 million units in 2010, up 17.8 percent from 502.0 million in 2009.

Shipments of MEMS pressure sensors are running at three times the historic average, bolstered by a pickup in passenger vehicle production coupled with inventory replenishment. Major tier 2 companies are now reporting an inability to make and ship the sensors quickly enough, and Tier 1s are indicating a shortage of parts in many areas of the supply chain, iSuppli said.

Should sales continue at this level a overheating could ensue, raising the specter of a slump later this year following the decline of 2009.

By geography North America will account for the largest share in the consumption of MEMS, making up 40 percent of the total in 2010. Europe is next, with about one-third share. China and Japan also show up strongly, each counted as a separate market of consumption. The Rest of the World, including South Korea, Russia and Latin America, is roughly on par with Japan but scores lower than China. Vertically integrated suppliers like Robert Bosch GmbH and Denso Corp. continued to dominate in 2009, pulling in $355 million and $203 million in MEMS sensor revenues, respectively. Other major revenue earners included Freescale Semiconductor Inc. with $139 million; Sensata Technologies, with $115 million; Analog Devices with $95 million; and Panasonic with $85 million.

Both ADI and Panasonic gained market share with gyroscopes, thanks to their profitable contracts, with Continental and TRW in the case of ADI; and with Autoliv for the Ford Motor Co. in the case of Panasonic.

The number of MEMS sensors used in cars is projected to increase from an average of 8.12 per vehicle in 2009 to more than 11.5 by 2014.

Legal requirements are a strong shaper of the market with electronic stability systems to become obligatory for vehicles in the United States by 2012 and in the European Union by 2014. Also to become mandatory in Europe by 2014 are tire pressure monitoring systems.

Such developments are expected to boost sales overall and MEMS pressure sensor shipments will be close to 137.9 million in 2014, up from just 42.9 million in 2009.

The deployment of stop-start systems that turn the engine off at junctions and traffic lights will grow from one million units per year to 13 million within five years, iSuppli said.

Given the rapid increase of car shipments to China, suppliers with a footprint in the region, such as Bosch and Continental, escaped the worst effects of the recession. With 11 percent consumption of total MEMS shipments in 2009, China's volume will continue to grow in the years to come and the country is set to become the third biggest market by 2014, ahead of Japan and the ROW region.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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