PORTLAND, Ore. -- Automotive MEMS chip sales rebounded to a new high in 2010, 662.3 million units, surpassing the previous high mark in 2007 of 640 million units, according to a market researcher.
ISuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) said recession-depleted inventories were replenished, prompting record growth of 32.1 percent in 2010
, up from 501 million units in 2009. Growth is expected to continue at a more sustainable rate of 7.4 percent in 2011, and reach double-digit gains through 2014.
Mandated safety technologies including electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring systems accounted for the lion's share of the new MEMS sensor growth. New auto applications include gas sensors to monitor air quality, infrared thermopiles for temperature, microbolometers for night-vision aids and MEMS oscillators for better rear-view cameras, according to iSuppli.
Other auto applications include MEMS sensors include devices for stop-start systems that cut the engine at stop lights, then automatically turn it back on when the driver hits the gas. Other growing niches include auxiliary accelerometers for triggering air bags and measuring inclination for smart parking brake systems.