Sony eyes profitability for automotive CIS biz by fiscal 2026 amid 6x growth in car cameras

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Sony Semiconductor Solutions

Sony's automotive CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) business is rapidly growing due to increasing demand for cameras in automobiles and the need for better image quality and functionality. This growth has inspired the company to announce its goal of making its automotive CIS business profitable by fiscal year 2026 (April 2026-March 2027).

According to reports from Mynavi and Nikkei, Terushi Shimizu, president and CEO of Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS), stated at Sony Group's business briefing at the end of May 2024 that the automotive CIS segment has been classified by the company as a strategic business with significant growth potential. However, it will still take some time to scale up the business and achieve profitability.

Sony's estimates indicate that the number of car cameras worldwide is expected to increase by 6.68 times from 2019 to 2030, while car sales are projected to grow only 1.11 times during the same period. Therefore, the growth rate of car cameras is more than six times that of car sales. This trend mirrors the multi-lens trend in smartphones and is expected to drive the growth of automotive CIS shipments.

More specifically, Sony estimates that each car will be equipped with around eight in-vehicle cameras by fiscal 2024-2025. These will include one front-end telephoto 8MP sensor, one front-end wide-angle 8MP sensor, two 8MP surround sensors, and four 3MP surround view sensors. By fiscal 2027-2028, this number is expected to increase to around 12 cameras per car, including two front-end telephoto 8MP sensors, one front-end wide-angle 8MP sensor, four 8MP surround sensors, and five 3MP surround view sensors.

Terushi Shimizu highlighted that advancements in autonomous driving technology are driving demand for long-distance recognition in front-end sensing, along with higher resolution and more pixels. In addition, there is a growing demand for LED Flicker Mitigation (LFM) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) technologies. Sony is also developing sensor technology that combines viewing and recognition, capable of outputting visual and sensing recognition signals from one sensor.

According to Sony's data, the company's global market share for automotive CIS, calculated by sales amount and excluding in-cabin cameras, reached 32% in 2023. Sony aims to grow this market share to 43% by fiscal 2026, hoping to transition its automotive CIS business from a strategic growth segment to a profitable one, similar to its mobile CIS segment.