Semiconductors Play a Significant and Growing Part in Operating your Car

Monday, Jul 30, 2012, 12:00am

by Semiconductor Industry Association

We traditionally think of our cars as being built from steel and powered by gas, but cars are increasingly becoming electronic products on wheels powered by semiconductors. Many of our cars’ systems – including the engine, tires, dashboard and entertainment features – now have semiconductors operating them. Some cars are even capable of parallel parking themselves and warning drivers of objects in their blind spots. And what new car these days does not come automatically equipped with a GPS? All of these new electronic technologies are powered in some way by semiconductors.

The data on the auto market for semiconductors supports the notion of increased technology content we observe every day in our cars. According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics program, the global auto market for semiconductors increased from $20.9 billion in 2007 to $25.7 billion in 2011. More significantly, the auto segment represented 9 percent of the global semiconductor market in 2011, up from 5.6 percent in 2000.

Going forward, indications are the auto sector will continue to drive growth in the semiconductor industry. According to a recently released Research Bulletin by IC Insights, this growth will likely be due not only to the increased quantity of cars purchased in the short-term but also to the types of cars being produced in the longer-term. Specifically, IC Insights estimates that more fuel-efficient and technologically-advanced vehicles will be produced. In addition, as a result of continued “green” initiatives, automakers will shift production towards more electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). IC Insights forecasts this shift in production type will lead to an increase in semiconductor content per vehicle from $350 in 2011 to $495 in 2015.

So next time you step into your car, think of it not simply as a steel product powered by gas; think of it also as an electronic product powered by semiconductors.