The implementation of smart technologies is one of the most important trends in the automotive industry. As a technology hub, Taiwan is among the world leaders in both technology and services, and many manufacturers are taking advantage of Taiwan's strengths to capture an even greater market share. However, vehicle safety standards are very strict, and industry regulations are constantly being updated. Mr. Allan Tseng, Vice President of Reliability Engineering Division of Integrated Service Technology Inc. (iST) therefore advises manufacturers in Taiwan to closely follow the developments of standard-setting organizations in order to gain customer recognition and secure more orders.
The adoption of smart technologies in the automotive industry is already in full swing, and the popularity of the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) continues to grow. After observing the market development, Mr. Tseng points out that Level 2 driving automation has become the vehicle standard in the past two years. A Level 2 vehicle is still controlled by the driver. Nevertheless, its systems actively monitor the environment through various means. They also provide some level of driving assistance, such as collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning, which are all basic functions currently.
While the transition from partial driving automation of Level 2 to conditional driving automation of Level 3 is indeed trending, Mr. Tseng believes that whether Level 3 vehicles can hit the road depends largely on external infrastructure and government regulations. From a technical perspective, Level 2 vehicles have already matured. Vehicle development per se does not make the transition to Level 3 difficult. However, conditional driving automation requires the incorporation of three environmental factors: people, vehicles, and roads. Therefore, it requires a much larger scope of consideration. Mr. Tseng further analyzes that in Level 2, various functions are focusing on the vehicle itself. This allows automakers to control the development process themselves. As a result, the market is evolving relatively quickly. However, Level 3 involves environments both inside and outside the vehicle. Infrastructure catering to driving automation in the surrounding environment must be in place. At the same time, legislation must also be revised. Therefore, the development process is not solely dependent on manufacturers. Before the industry can make further progress, the relevant infrastructure and legislation must first catch up.
While waiting for more favorable external conditions, the automotive and electronics industries have not been slowing down. They continue to invest significant resources to enhance the capabilities of automotive systems. Standard-setting organizations also proceed with updating regulations to improve road safety for the public and provide a more comprehensive framework for the industry to follow.
Currently, key standards for the automotive market include IATF 16949 for quality assurance in automotive production, ISO 26262 for functional safety of electrical and electronic systems in road vehicles, VDA 6.3 for quality control systems in the automotive supply chain, and various specifications developed by the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC). Mr. Tseng emphasizes that AEC specifications, which have become the common and fundamental standards for the automotive industry, are particularly relevant to automotive products developed by manufacturers in Taiwan. Therefore, the industry needs to pay more attention to the way standards are developed, as well as details and changes of these standards.
At present, AEC has developed six standards for five types of automotive electronic components or modules. Among which are AEC-Q100 (for integrated circuits), AEC-Q101 (for discrete components), AEC-Q102 (for discrete optoelectronic LED components), AEC-Q104 (for multi-chip modules [MCMs] or systems-in-package MCMs) and AEC-Q200 (for passive components). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of AEC standards has slowed down in the last two years. Nonetheless, the pace will pick up again in the post-pandemic era. Mr. Tseng predicts that standards for board level products, silicon carbide (SiC) components and touch screens will all be announced in 2023.
Formulating specifications for board level products could simplify the market. In the past, vendors had to design their products to meet the varying standards of each Tier 1 customer. However, standards set by AEC will share a common framework. Manufacturers of board level products can use this framework as a foundation and add specific features required by Tier 1 vendors to optimize design costs and scheduling. SiC, which features high voltage withstanding, low on-resistance, and low switching losses, is considered the next-generation automotive power devices. According to market research firm, TrendForce, the shipment value of SiC will exceed US$1 billion in 2022, and soar to US$3.9 billion by 2026. AEC is likely to introduce the corresponding standards for the new generation SiC power devices as well. For touch screens, new standards will set detailed requirements in terms of their reliability, as they are an important human-machine interface of automotive systems.
iST offers a comprehensive range of consulting and certification services in the field of automotive electronics standards. The company has also become a member of AEC in 2022. There are currently 93 AEC members worldwide, with only nine in Taiwan. iST is the sole independent third-party laboratory in Asia accredited by AEC. According to Mr. Tseng, the AEC membership of iST will bring three major benefits to the automotive component manufacturers in Taiwan. First, iST will be able to stay on top of the dynamics of standard development and help its customers stay ahead of the curve. Second, iST will be able to understand the nature and mechanisms of the standard development process. This will enable automotive component manufacturers in meeting the requirements of these standards and obtain certifications more quickly. Third, iST can serve as a platform between AEC and the automotive component manufacturers in Taiwan, relaying requests of manufacturers during the standard development process. Meanwhile, AEC can also communicate its philosophy on standard development through iST.
Mr. Tseng concludes by noting that iST has been heavily involved in automotive electronics for many years, providing consulting, verification, and certification services ranging from semiconductors, modules to vehicles in their entirety. For this service system, iST not only focuses on semiconductor consulting and verification, but has also formed a strategic alliance with DEKRA, a world-renowned third-party professional testing and certification organization. In addition to vehicle inspection, DEKRA has joined forces with iST to establish DEKRA iST, to specialize in reliability verification of automotive modules and systems. By joining AEC, one-stop services offered by iST will become even more comprehensive. In the future, the company will continue to strengthen its capabilities in various areas to help its customers, i.e., the automotive component manufacturers in Taiwan, improve their competitiveness.
Mr. Allan Tseng, Vice President of Reliability Engineering Division of Integrated Service Technology Inc. (iST) pointed out that after becoming a member of AEC at the end of 2022, the one-stop service of iST has become increasingly comprehensive, which is able to assist clients in Taiwan to make preparation ahead of the curve by entering and securing the automotive market.