Chinese car market peak season aids automotive-grade MCU demand

Annie Huang, Taipei; Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Car chips have become the semiconductor industry's primary driver as the end market of consumer electronics remains sluggish. As major China-based automakers saw October sales grow month-over-month and year-over-year, MCU makers are launching new products and pursuing mass production.

September and October have been the peak season for China's car market. Many automakers reported robust sales in September. BYD topped the industry with 300,000 units of sales in October. Li Auto and Xpeng also see business increase significantly.

EV development enables the rapid growth in automotive-grade MCU demand. Leading international suppliers include Renesas, NXP, Infineon and STM. Companies based in Taiwan and China still experience low self-production rates because automotive MCUs require advanced techniques and a long period to finish certification.

With the transformation of automotive Electrical and Electronic Architecture (EEA), MCUs support vehicle bodies, driver assistance systems, power systems, and many others. MCUs are the core of the control system.

Industry sources said cars will demand more and more semiconductors. However, the more integrated chips will affect the number of MCUs used per car. Since EVs are driving the evolution of the car industry, MCU companies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have accelerated the development and certification of automotive-grade products. They are moving from the low-to-medium application market to automotive MCUs.

BYD Semiconductor introduced an 8-bit automotive-grade MCU in 2018 and released the first generation of 32-bit MCU in 2019. BYD Han and Tang vehicle models and other carmakers have adopted the company's 32-bit MCUs.

Rumors have risen that Huawei has entered the automotive-grade MCU market. Supply chain sources confirmed that Huawei-owned HiSilicon has demanded lead frames for its automotive MCUs.

China-based companies focusing on IC design, including GigaDevice Semiconductor and Fudan Microelectronics, have moved from low-level to medium-level application markets. Taiwanese semiconductor companies like Nuvoton Technology and Holtek Semiconductor have received certificates for their automotive MCU solutions and worked on commencing mass production.