Although shipments of MEMS sensors used in automotive applications grew 8.4% in 2015, revenues were flat compared to the previous year, reaching $2.7 billion. In contrast, the value of this market is expected to recover this year, rising 4.3% to reach $2.8 billion in 2016, according to IHS Markit. The automotive MEMS market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% from 2015 to 2022, to reach $3.2 billion in 2022. Global shipments will exceed two billion units for the first time at the end of this period.
"Just three types of MEMS devices used in the automotive industry account for more than 95% of market value: pressure sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes," said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for automotive sensors at IHS Markit. "The primary systems relying on these devices are electronic stability control systems, airbags, tire pressure monitors, and manifold absolute pressure sensors, although IHS tracks 34 other automotive MEMS applications." While these other applications will remain still relatively small by 2022, the fastest growing volume applications in the coming years will include the detection of pedestrians, air-intake humidity measurement, microphones for hands-free calling in infotainment systems, and microbolometers for night-vision systems used in driver assistance systems. New sensor areas on the horizon also include scanning mirrors for head-up displays and adaptive LED headlights.
Top 10 automotive MEMS sensor suppliers
For second-tier suppliers of automotive sensors, 2015 was a good year. However, significant devaluations of the euro and yen currencies affected the businesses of several companies. Leading Germany-based sensor supplier Robert Bosch was among the companies hit by exchange rate weakness, but its business continues to soar in local currency and shipments.
Sensata followed Bosch in the second-ranked position, exhibiting subdued 2015 revenue growth, despite last year's acquisition of CST, including the sensor business of Kavlico. Along with its strong position in powertrain pressure sensors, Sensata benefits from its high-profile acquisition of Schrader, which made it the leading supplier of tire pressure monitors.
A name new to the MEMS sensor business is NXP, whose acquisition of Freescale last year catapulted the company into third-ranked position. NXP is known for its automotive magnetic sensors, while pressure sensors and accelerometers are the key sensors brought to the company via the Freescale acquisition.
The remaining seven companies also showed subdued results, with Japanese companies such as Denso (ranked fourth) and Panasonic (ranked sixth). Both companies were adversely affected by the continued softness of the yen currency.
Copyright 2016 MEMS Journal, Inc.