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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Electric vehicles to drive automotive semiconductor market

Vehicles driven by electric motors need large quantity of power semiconductor devices such as IGBTs, MOSFETs, Diodes, Power converter and battery management ICs, microcontroller chips, automotive specific networking chips, sensors and other non-semiconductor components.

There is nothing wrong in calling electric car also as electronic car. It's full of silicon and copper. Market analysis firm IMS research forecasts that demand for electric vehicles will grow steadily throughout the decade ahead from less than 600,000 in 2008 to over 12 million in 2020. From luxury car makers to low cost car makers, electric and hybrids are the design priority.

IMS says from a semiconductor supplier's point of view, growing production volumes of electric vehicles are only one side of the equation. The other side is that the value of semiconductors in an electric vehicle drivetrain is not only higher than in a conventional vehicle drivetrain: according to the IMS Research report, it is over 10 times higher!

Jon Cropley of IMS said, "These vehicles have significant power IC, power discrete and power module content. Much of this is for the inverter required to drive the vehicle's main motor/generators. However, many other electric vehicle drivetrain applications require semiconductors including battery monitoring and control, DC/DC converters, AC/DC chargers and air conditioning converters".

IMS Report says many semiconductor suppliers have so far found it difficult to enter the supply chain for electric vehicles. Japanese vehicle manufacturers have dominated production and have either used their own semiconductors or used semiconductors from suppliers they part own (Keiretsu partners). These barriers to market entry look set to disappear as vehicle manufacturers from other regions ramp up production and Japanese vehicle manufacturers look for competing semiconductor vendors.

According to the IMS Research report, the market could be worth over $7 billion in 2020.

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