Renesas keeps seeing uncertainties in automotive sector, saying SiC production will scale gradually

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


Renesas Electronics said on July 27 that uncertainties remain in the automotive sector, especially with changes in the Chinese market. The company also said it will go slow on its silicon carbide (SiC) production, planning to ship out samples in the third quarter of this year.

Renesas announced its financial results for the second quarter of 2023 on July 27.

Highlights of Renesas 2Q 2023 financial results


Result (JPY billion)

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Gross margin (%)



Operating profit



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Source: Renesas, compiled by DIGITIMES Asia, July 2023

According to the semiconductor company, it reported 34.9% of operating margin in its automotive business unit from April to June 2023, decreasing by 1.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Renesas' industrial/infrastructure/IoT unit reached 35.4% of the operating margin in the second quarter, increasing by 1.9 percentage points from the first quarter of 2023.

At a conference call following the release of financial results, Renesas CEO Hidetoshi Shibata said the industrial market has been very strong, but the pace of growth is expected to slow down.

He also said the PC and consumer electronics segments have bottomed out and will likely see some modest growth from the third quarter of 2023 onward. As for data centers, the rapid switch to DDR5 memory is expected to create a significant increase in the next quarter.

"With the automotive side, it's still uncertain. That's my frank comment," Shibata said on Thursday.

He added that Renesas had expected more robustness to arise in the second quarter, but it was not how the company felt. The CEO said the immense EV growth and internal combustion engine vehicle reduction in China primarily created uncertainties in the car sector, especially among Renesas' Japanese customers.

Shibata also said the company's global tier 1 customers have tight cash flow. Many are trying hard to control their inventory.

Renesas announced on July 5 a 10-year SiC wafer supply agreement with Wolfspeed. Renesas plans to provide a US$2 billion deposit to Wolfspeed to support the US company's capacity expansion, receiving 150mm and 200mm SiC bare and epitaxial wafers, the company said.

Mass production of the SiC semiconductor is slated to start in 2025. Shuhei Shinkai, Renesas senior vice president and chief financial officer, said on July 27 that the company has paid US$1 billion to Wolfspeed and the other half will be paid next year and onward. Renesas used its cash to make the payment.

Shibata said Renesas will make SiC investment step by step. It plans to ship out six-inch samples to customers starting in the third quarter of 2023. Once the customers are satisfied, Renesas will be able to progress to eight-inch and more. That is probably when the company will make another large investment, he added.

According to Shinkai, Renesas plans to resume its Kofu plant in Japan in 2024. Mass production of power semiconductors on 300mm wafers is expected to begin at the facility in 2025. He also said there will be an expansion of production at the Kofu plant.