Qualcomm also sees its role growing in automotive chips, as embedded cellular connectivity is also finding its way into the automotive market. IHS notes that 25 percent of US cars in 2012 were sold with the feature, for the most part included as standard equipment. “OEMs will increasingly want to use embedded cellular for both safety and diagnostic purposes, because built-in wireless connectivity in cars will prove more robust and reliable than using a tethered or mobile device like a smartphone,” explained Luca De Ambroggi, senior analyst for automotive infotainment at IHS.
Strategy Analytics’ Riches counts Nvidia as one of the stronger players among the non-traditional automotive chip companies. Tesla’s ambitious goal to create an in-vehicle computing platform that rivals top-of-the-line laptop PCs is well known. Nvidia is openly courting Tesla to partner on a Tegra 3-based chipset to drive high-end graphics for Tesla’s 12-inch dashboard display and 17-inch infotainment control touch screen.
It’s time to rethink
While not every traditional automotive chip company should be chasing every new automotive electronics segment, the automotive landscape is changing, forcing chipmakers to rethink their viability in the automotive electronics market.
“Carmakers need new features they can put on pedestal,” Riches said. But in order to keep up with true innovation, he believes that a new model of genuine partnerships must be formed between automotive chip suppliers and carmakers. Now is not the time for carmakers to cling to “self-inflated ideas” about their industry, he added.
Riches summed it up by quoting what Stephan Lehmann, director of global automotive marketing at Freescale Semiconductor said a year ago at the VDI Baden-Baden conference:
The uncomfortable truth is that the fundamentals suggest that the industry needs to rethink how it goes about sustaining innovation. This requires a completely different kind of collaboration -- and true partnership -- to manage through new emerging challenges.