Market Insight

Automotive power semiconductors growth accelerating

May 29, 2018

Kevin Anderson Kevin Anderson Senior Analyst, Power Semiconductors
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  • The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue and unit shipments of power semiconductors -- including power discretes, power modules and power integrated circuits (ICs) – is forecast to grow 7 percent from 2017 to 2023. This growth rate is more than three times the expected build rate for light vehicles, which is expected to grow an average of just 2 percent annually, during the same period.
  • The average number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) installed in vehicles — including blind spot information, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear automatic braking and other features joining the now ubiquitous backup cameras — will grow from an average of 1.6 per vehicle today to 3.8 in 2023.
  • Growth in number of power inverters, converters, chargers and auxiliary systems in the powertrain segment will lead to a 10 percent CAGR for powertrain modules, between 2017 and 2023; revenue from power ICs in those systems will grow at a CAGR of 9 percent, power discretes will increase 11 percent, and power modules will rise 32 percent.
  • Unit shipments of power semiconductors for infotainment units are expected to grow 7 percent, as car buyers increasingly value the ability to connect to their smartphones and other mobile devices. Body and convenience and chassis and safety unit shipments are forecast to grow at a modest 4 percent growth rate, since many of these systems are already standard features in most vehicles.

Our analysis

ADAS and powertrain lead the way

Average growth in power semiconductor revenue and unit shipments will largely be led by burgeoning sales of ADAS and electrified powertrains. In fact, ADAS unit shipments are expected to grow at a CAGR of 17 percent, from 2017 through 2023, due to expanding new car assessment program (NCAP) coverage of active safety features, as well as growing consumer demand for advanced safety features in all vehicle segments. 

Mild and full hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to comprise 28 percent of the total light vehicle market in 2023, up from 4 percent today, according to IHS Markit forecasts. This automotive category growth will lead to an increase in the use of powertrain power semiconductors, causing revenue in this segment to grow at a 13 percent CAGR, from 2017 through 2023.

Lifecycle and design factors

Unit growth is only one of the factors influencing the demand for automotive power semiconductors. Lifecycle and design trends also have a big impact on the device types used in these types of systems.

Automotive systems production progresses through a design lifecycle of development, optimization and maturity. During the development phase, known off-the-shelf components are typically used to minimize development risk. Once the optimization and maturity phases are reached, cost reduction is a high priority, and components with higher integration are usually developed to achieve size, cost and power savings. 

The standard for functional safety applied to automotive systems, ISO 26262, is another key factor in component selection. Meeting safety goals is crucial to many automotive systems, especially those operating autonomously and others providing driver assistance. Achieving safety goals often requires additional redundancy, run-time diagnostics, fault notification and other features added to the system.

Due to all these factors, application-specific ICs (ASICs), system basis chips (SBCs), power management ICs (PMICs) and other highly integrated devices are projected to grow faster than standalone single-function power ICs like linear voltage regulators and switching converters.

Power Semiconductors in Automotive Report

The report covers 30 power semiconductor device types and 35 automotive electronics systems. The forecast was built from the bottom up, starting with vehicle build and electronic module fitment projections. A power semiconductor bill-of-materials was then created for each system, using the extensive IHS Markit teardown database, supplier interviews and analyst expertise to create a by-system by-component forecast in both units and dollars.

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