LONDON Ė Driven by the sharp rebound in the automotive production and inventory rebuilding, the market for automotive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors will grow to record size in 2010, according to market research firm iSuppli.
Shipments of automotive MEMS sensors will reach 662.3 million units in 2010, up 32.1 percent from 501.2 million units in 2009. Growth is expected to slow in 2011 with shipments anticpated to climb 7.3 percent. Production then will pick up again in 2012, and growth rates end up above 13 percent by 2014.
One significant engine of automotive MEMS growth is the use of sensors in passenger cars supporting mandated safety technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC) and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
The United States and Europe have led the adoption of legislation on such safety systems and countries, such as Australia and Canada, have followed suit. Similar mandates are now being adopted in South Korea and are expected in Japan, accelerating overall adoption rates worldwide. The extra opportunity from both ESC and TPMS for automotive MEMS suppliers to Japan and Korea will correspond to additional revenue of some $120 million in those regions alone for the next five years, iSuppli said.
China will also account for a large portion of the automotive MEMS action. Compared to U.S. or European vehicles, the electronics content of low- and mid-range vehicles in China is about 50 percent or less, but sensor penetration will steadily increase, first in powertrain applications in order to reduce carbon emissions that choke Chinese cities and afterward as safety sensors for additional airbags and ESC systems.
Among the new applications providing suppliers greater production opportunities for automotive MEMS sensors, the most prominent include usage of gas sensors to control air quality in the cabin; infrared thermopiles to monitor temperature; microbolometers to aid night-vision systems and MEMS oscillators to boost rear-view cameras.