The market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in the automotive segment will lose some steam as growth cools in new-car shipments, but a period of expansion then follows due to rising safety equipment rates and the continuing pressure to lower vehicle emissions, according to an IHS iSuppli Automotive MEMS market tracker report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Automotive MEMS revenue is projected to reach $2.40 billion by year-end, up 6.6 percent from $2.25 billion in 2011. Growth drops to 5.8 percent in 2013 before surging to 13.4 percent in 2014, when revenue climbs to $2.88 billion.
By 2016, automotive MEMS revenue will amount to $3.20 billion or growth of 4.4 percent, reflecting stabilization in the automotive MEMS sensor market due to diminishing demand for vehicle safety mechanisms like electronic stability control (ESC) and tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). These systems will be fulfilling their fitment rates by that time according to regulations, leading to more muted growth in automotive MEMS.
ESC, with multiple sensors per system to detect and reduce skiding, has become increasingly common in the United States, Europe, Australia, South Korea and Japan. TPMS, which monitors air pressure inside pneumatic tires, is regulated in the United States, Canada, China, South Korea and Europe.
While shipments of new cars will slow down in areas like Europe and China, the overall market for MEMS sensors will continue to manage very robust growth, benefiting the automotive segment as well.
New drivers to spur growth
Beyond 2015, the automotive MEMS market will be spurred by several growth drivers.
Among them is TPMS in China, with expected sales of $190 million. TPMS has a later deadline of mid-2015 for mandatory fitment, helping to spur growth for the industry at a time after the system has matured in many other global regions.
Another fast-growing application will be roll detection, fueled by U.S. legislation on ejection mitigation—preventing the occupants of a car from being thrown out when the vehicle rolls over in an accident. The mandate will stimulate the market for gyroscopes and accelerometers for this function to 18 percent growth, spread out over five years.
A third impetus will be gasoline-direct-injection (GDI)-aspirated engines, which feature higher specific power and greater efficiency, and are crucial factors to help vehicles meet forthcoming carbon emission goals in mature automotive markets.
Europe is ahead of the global average in deploying GDI fuel systems, exemplified on vehicle engines in the Daimler Move, Ford Sigma and Fox, PSA EB, Renault/Nissan SIG and the EA111/2111 powertrains in various Volkswagen models. However, North America will eventually outplace the rest of the world in GDI penetration, given that gasoline engines account for most of the engine production on the continent. GDI penetration is low in China but will grow in the future, while Japan is on a downsizing trend with emphasis on smaller GDI-turbocharged engines.
Another key sensor measurement propelling automotive MEMS market growth is the vacuum brake boost, being accelerated in particular with the advent of the stop-start application. Here, pressure sensors provide input on vacuum conditions in brake systems: depending on pressure variations during braking, a pump is activated and then generates additional vacuum to increase braking force. With growing market adhesion of start-stop systems, shipments of the device will expand by 34.5 percent from 2011 to 2016, reaching 18.9 million units.
The impending e-call telematics regulation will also stimulate sensor sales, especially for cars in Europe. Dedicated accelerometers will enjoy potential, in cars equipped with e-call systems that would automatically call the nearest emergency center in case of an accident, reducing response time considerably. The regulation, which officially kicks in at the end of the second quarter of 2015, is expected to influence all new vehicles sold in the region.
Top MEMS devices and applications identified
Four devices are responsible for 99 percent of the automotive MEMS market today. These are pressure sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes and flow sensors—all of which offer five-year growth rates ranging from 3 to 12 percent. A fifth device, the miocrobolometer, will gain significance in 2016 when night vision systems take off.
The Top 5 applications in value this year for automotive MEMS include, in descending order: ESC, airbags, manifold absolute pressure (MAP), TPMS and roll detection.