Keywords for domestic automotive chips in 2023: passing regulations, implementation, price reduction
Electronic Enthusiast Network reports (Text/Liang Haobin) Since 2019, as the consumer electronics market has gradually shown signs of decline, many chip companies in the consumer and industrial fields have begun to turn their attention to the automotive market in order to find second growth points and have made plans. Car chip.
In 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic has severely affected global chip production capacity, especially the global shortage of automotive chips, the rising prices of automotive chips, and the prospect of demand for automotive chips under the trend of new energy vehicles, making more chip companies more... Dedicated to the automotive market.
In fact, in the past few years, automotive chips have indeed been an important growth point for the global semiconductor industry. For example, NXP's revenue in fiscal year 2022 increased by more than 50% compared to 2020, and its net profit was even 53 times that of 2020 (of course, the net profit base in 2020 was relatively small, at US$52 million), and the automotive business's revenue accounted for It will also increase from 44% in 2020 to 52% in 2022. Automotive chip giant Infineon's revenue in fiscal year 2023 exceeded 16 billion euros, an increase of more than 90% compared with fiscal year 2020, and net profit increased from 368 million euros in fiscal 2020 to 4.4 billion euros in fiscal 2023, an increase of more than 10 times.
Overseas giants rely on automotive chips and their performance continues to hit new highs. So what changes will domestic chip manufacturers see in the automotive field in 2023? What is the current situation of domestic automotive chips? The observations over the past year can be summarized using the following keywords.
In 2023, domestic chip companies will launch more new automotive chip products, covering various products such as MCUs, analog ICs, power devices, SoCs, and sensors. As for automotive chips, it is difficult to be recognized by customers and applied to cars just by manufacturing the chips, especially since domestic chips are still in the early stages of establishing a reputation. Therefore, the certification standards applicable globally have become the entry threshold for automotive chips, which is the so-called "passing regulations."
In the automotive field, there are different standards for different types of devices. The more common one is AEC-Q1XX, such as AEC-Q100/101/102/103/104, etc., covering chips, discrete devices, optoelectronic devices, MEMS sensors, etc. Chip modules, etc. There are also standards for functional safety, such as ISO 26262.
Looking at MCUs and SiC MOSFETs, which have attracted much attention, many domestic companies launched new automotive-grade products last year. In terms of automotive MCUs, products that meet the AEC-Q100 standard have become standard equipment for mainstream MCU manufacturers. In terms of functional safety, many automotive MCU products have passed the highest level of ASIL-D of ISO 26262.
For example, Qixin Micro released a new generation of ASIL-D automotive-grade MCU product FC7240 in October last year, with a 240MHz main frequency and integrated 2MB Flash and 256KB SRAM space. It plans to provide samples and development boards to customers in 2023Q4; Yuntu Semiconductor Last year, it launched its first automotive-grade MCU YTM32B1H that supports ASIL-D functional safety level certification, which can be used in domain controllers; Jiefa Technology launched the AC7870x high-end automotive-grade MCU that meets ASIL-D functional safety standards in August; Core Titanium Technology announced in December that its automotive MCU TTA8 had obtained the ISO26262 ASIL-D functional safety certification.
In terms of SiC MOSFET, domestic manufacturers have entered the field of SiC power devices from analog chips last year. Some start-up companies have launched the first automotive-grade SiC MOSFET products. There are also some manufacturers whose SiC MOSFET products have been successfully introduced into main drive inverter applications and mass-produced. , there are more manufacturers launching car-standard products.
According to incomplete statistics from Electronic Enthusiast Network, last year included Feidian Semiconductor, Xinta Electronics, Nanocore, Pengxin Semiconductor, Zhongke Hanyun, Lanxin Semiconductor, Xingan Technology, Zhanxin Electronics, Nationstar Optoelectronics, and Nari Semiconductor , Jie Square Semiconductor, Basic Semiconductor, China Automotive Chuangzhi, Guolian Wanzhong and other manufacturers have launched new automotive-grade SiC MOSFET products.
Compared with consumer-grade chips, automotive chips have higher requirements for car company verification cycles, safety certifications, high reliability and other indicators. These indicators often require chip design companies to invest a lot of resources in laboratories for long-term verification. , only then have the opportunity to supply to vehicle manufacturers. However, the long verification cycle and test investment are a considerable investment for some small and medium-sized chip design manufacturers, and they face greater risks. This is one of the reasons why few domestic manufacturers have been involved in automotive chips in the past.
For a long time, the automotive chip supply chain has been dominated by overseas giants such as NXP, Infineon, Renesas, TI, ST, etc., coupled with the long cycle of automotive chips themselves, as well as considerations of reliability and safety, after Overseas brand products that have been proven for many years are naturally a safer choice for OEMs. In the past, chip suppliers whose products have not been implemented in a large number of automotive terminals have not been tested in actual applications, making it difficult to verify their reliability. It is also difficult to attract Tier 1 or OEMs to introduce local chip suppliers.
However, the chip shortage in 2020 gave domestic suppliers the opportunity to break into the supply chain. After a period of verification, in 2023, domestic car-grade chips began to be introduced to car companies on a large scale and realized pre-installation mass production. Enthusiasts have researched a number of domestic MCU manufacturers in the past year, and many have already achieved mass production in domestic OEMs, but they are mainly companies that have deployed automotive-grade chips earlier. As for the MCU manufacturers that began to lay out automotive chips around 2020, a few of them have made rapid progress and achieved mass production in 2023, while more companies have successfully entered the Tier 1 supply chain.
Data previously released by the China Electric Vehicles Conference of 100 show that the localization rate of automotive chips has increased from less than 5% in the past to 10% in 2023. This also proves that the number of domestic chips entering the automotive supply chain has indeed increased significantly in the past few years.
Beginning in August 2023, the price war in the automobile market officially began. First, the joint venture car company SAIC Volkswagen significantly reduced the price of ID.3, and the monthly sales volume instantly soared from less than 2,000 vehicles to nearly 10,000 vehicles. Subsequently, car companies such as Leapmotor, Chery, Euler, Tesla, MG, Nezha, and Ji Krypton began to reduce prices. This not only brought price reduction pressure to the models sold on the market, but also set the prices for subsequent new cars. brought great challenges.
Therefore, we can see that the new cars released in the fourth quarter are almost fully cost-effective. For example, the 2024 Xiaopeng G9 starts at 263,900 yuan, which is more than 40,000 yuan lower than the old model; the Zhiji LS6 has also been officially released, starting from The pre-sale price range of 230,000-300,000 yuan has dropped to 214,900 yuan. In December, the pre-sale price of Ji Krypton 007 has dropped from 229,900 yuan to 209,900 yuan when it was officially released.
For consumers, the price reduction in the automobile market is certainly a good thing, but the reduction in automobile prices must be paid by automobile companies and supply chain companies. The profits of car companies are compressed, which will naturally put pressure on the upstream supply chain. Upstream suppliers, including chip companies, must reduce prices if they want to continue cooperation.
Some chip manufacturers also reported to electronics enthusiasts that although chip prices last year were very low compared to the past, car companies still reported that they were too expensive, which resulted in chip prices being suppressed without a lower limit. Of course, there may be oversupply reasons behind this, because this phenomenon reflects that the current automotive chip market has changed from a seller's market to a buyer's market, and pricing power is in the hands of the demand side.
China is the world's largest auto market and the most competitive auto market in the world. In such a market environment, price cuts have become the most immediate and effective medicine for auto companies. At the same time, the prerequisite for maintaining the stable development of the industrial chain is that the automobile market continues to grow. Once demand growth slows down or declines, the risk of overcapacity may cause a serious blow to the entire industrial chain.
There are not many opportunities left for domestic automotive chip manufacturers
The automotive chip market has undoubtedly been the market with the best development prospects in the past three years. In the wave of new energy vehicles, the rising demand for chips has allowed automotive chip manufacturers to achieve record performance. However, in a booming market, there are also some signals at the end of 2023 that may reflect the coming crisis.
Some time ago, both STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments announced their performance in 2023. From the performance itself and the company's performance forecast for 2024, we can feel that the current market demand is still weak. STMicroelectronics' overall revenue and profit increased year-on-year last year, mainly due to the increase in demand for automotive semiconductors in the first half of the year. However, in the fourth quarter, both revenue and profit declined year-on-year, and operating profit even fell by as much as 20.5% year-on-year.
Texas Instruments was affected by the price war for analog chips and the slowdown in demand for automotive chips. Its revenue in 2023 fell by 12.5% year-on-year, and its net profit fell by 25%.
For 2024, STMicroelectronics expects first-quarter revenue to fall by about 15%, and Texas Instruments' performance expectations during the same period are also significantly lower than analysts' average expectations. There are increasing signs of overcapacity in automotive chips, and it is likely to return to overall overcapacity and structural shortages in 2024.
Therefore, 2024 will be a challenging year for domestic automotive chip manufacturers. What the market situation will be depends on the progress of electrification in the automobile market and overall sales.
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