BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Bosch extended its lead in the automotive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors market last year in a big way, according to a new report from IHS Technology. The German supplier garnered $740 million in automotive MEMS sensor revenue in 2013, more than three times the sales of its nearest competitor, Denso in Japan. Buoyed by its strong captive market for Tier 1 customers, Bosch’s revenue grew 13.3% from $653 million in 2012. Bosch supplies accelerometers, gyroscopes, pressure sensors, and flow sensors used in safety and powertrain applications.
“While Bosch was out front and even increasing its lead, other suppliers were much closer together last year in a tightly knit pack,” said Richard Dixon, PhD, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, in a statement. “The tighter competition among Bosch’s other rivals is due to Denso and Panasonic declining in dollar terms -- while others like Sensata, Analog Devices and Infineon not facing this drawback took advantage of the situation to close the gap.”
The top ten suppliers generated $2.18 billion in revenue last year, accounting for 88% of the total market. Worldwide automotive MEMS sensor revenue only grew 3%, to $2.47 billion in 2013 from $2.4 billion the prior year. Revenue growth was affected by price erosion for sensors designed into safety applications, including electronic stability control (ESC) and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Despite slower revenue growth, shipment growth in 2013 was in the double digits, climbing 13% vs. 11% in 2012.
Denso remained the second leading automotive MEMS sensor supplier in 2013, even though the Japanese vendor posted a 21.3% decline in revenue, which totaled $233 million from $296 million. Denso supplies MEMS sensors for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. It is the leading supplier of parts for continuous variable transmission systems, mainly a Japanese market.
However, revenue growth was marred by a 22% drop in the value of then yen, which also affected its Japanese counterparts, including Panasonic, which fell four spots last year from third in 2012. Panasonic’s revenue dropped 21.3%, to $211 million, from $166 million. Panasonic, which garners a majority of its sales from the automotive gyroscope business, is also under pressure from rivals Murata in ESC applications, as well as Epson Toyocom for navigation.
As Japan’s automotive MEMS sensor suppliers struggle, a group of four companies closed in on the rankings, including Sensata Technologies, Freescale Semiconductor, Analog Devices, and Infineon Technologies. Sensata, which is the second leading supplier of pressure sensors after Bosch, climbed two places to rank third with $217 million in revenue in 2013, up 8.5% from $200 million in 2012. Sensata also supplies ceramic pressure and polymer-based humidity sensors. It is the only commercial supplier of a MEMS cylinder pressure sensor, used by Volkswagen and Daimler diesels.
Up one place each were Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor in fourth place, Analog Devices Inc. of Mass. in fifth, and Infineon Technologies of Germany in the sixth spot. Freescale chalked up a 7.5% rise in revenue, which reached $214 million in 2013 from $199 million in 2012. It recovered market share it lost from the damage to its Sendai fab after the Japanese tsunami in 2011, and experienced strong accelerometer sales.
Meanwhile, Analog Devices’ 8.5% revenue growth last year can also be attributed to healthy shipments of airbag accelerometers. The company’s revenue reached $191 million from $176 million in 2012. Despite price erosion, Infineon managed to grow revenue 15%, to $174 million from $151 million, as it leveraged its position as the leading supplier to the TPMS market.
— Ismini Scouras is a freelance writer for EE Times.