SONOMA, Calif. -- Infineon Technologies North America Corp. is targeting automotive applications as a key growth market in the region.
Currently 24 percent of its the Infineon unit's business comes from the automotive and industrial sector. Bob LeFort, a Delphi Automotive veteran who now serves as president of Infineon Technologies North America, said the market represents the best opportunity for continuing growth.
Infineon's fiscal 2002 revenues totaled $5.1 billion, of which $1.2 billion came from the U.S. market, LeFort told editors and analysts gathered at Infineon Raceway, the automobile race track Infineon sponsors here. Though Infineon competes in four primary market segments " automotive, wireless communications, wireless and memory " the company's American revenues are derived mainly from memory and automotive ICs.
It is the latter that company is targeting for growth. The company's five-year plan calls for moving up among the world's leading IC suppliers, said LeFort. By 2007, Infineon wants to be the fourth largest semiconductor provider in the world and among the top three in other market segments like automotive.
Infineon is already the top automotive IC supplier in Europe, and trails only Motorola in the $11.5 billion global market. It currently holds about 6.2 percent of the $3.46 billion North American market. Motorola has a 22-percent market share. Delco, Delphi's semiconductor unit, holds 7.5 percent while Philips claims 6.9 percent, according to market watchers Strategy Analytics.
Though the automobile market is growing at a relatively slow 2.5 percent annually, electronics content in new cars is forecast to increase from 22 percent in 2002 to as much as 35 percent in 2010, said Reinhart Ploss, Infineon's vice president and general manager of the automotive business group. Four key areas for growth are passenger comfort, safety, power transmission and environmental compliance, Ploss said.
Passenger comfort controls include adjusting seat position, interior temperature and entertainment. Safety issues, meanwhile, include shortening stopping distances, spotting obstacles with radar and vision systems and installing directed headlights which, in conjunction with a global positioning system, anticipate bends in the road.
Infineon offers sensors, microcontrollers and actuators for each safety, confort and power-train control subsystem. The sensors include pressure and temperature readers as well as RFID tags. The actuators include voltage regulators, power MOSFETs and IGBTs. Microcontrollers include 8-, 16- and 32-bit devices.
A major technology issue will be ensuring adequate communication between the roughly 90 controllers in each car, Ploss said. Communications will be complicated by interoperability issues when car manufacturers install subsystems from multiple suppliers as well as the potential obsolescence of the processor components.
The anticipated 35 percent electronics content for future cars, 22 percent will be in hardware while 13 percent will be in software. Software design will be critically important for engine control and safety systems, Infineon executives said.
Infineon has strategic relationships with key subsystem suppliers like Bosch, Siemens, Visteon and TRW. It currently provides 37 components, including ABS, body controls, door and seat modules for the Cadillac Escalade.