Connected car: The growing demands of automotive OEMs and the supply chain

In a recent post on EDA Cafe I talked about industry trends, and highlighted how automotive chip usage has traditionally been small by comparison to consumer electronics – but its market is growing.

As a subset of the car market, connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is a market set to grow exponentially in the next five years. In figures from Allied Market Research, the global connected car market was valued at $63.03 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $225.16 billion by 2027.

The use of other, traditional in-vehicle system, control and multimedia electronics continue to grow.

But there are both opportunities and threats within connected car.

The number of sensors even in traditional vehicles is growing significantly – from an average of 100 today, to at least doubling for a connected car. Connected cars obviously have a certain volume of sensors, wireless communications, and interface devices for driver, passenger or for maintenance. Move into autonomous, and clearly the need for sensors grows rapidly as does the need for more secure and functionally-safe systems.

These opportunities need to be balanced in the face of the (now very real) global semiconductor shortage. System designers will have to tackle capacity issues at foundries and component shortages at their usual semiconductor OEMs. Manufacturing capacity issues are here today and for the foreseeable future.

In October 2021, Tom Caulfield, CEO of GlobalFoundries was quoted as saying that they have sold all capacity until 2023. TSMC and other fabs are rapidly looking for ways to expand their production – but building new cutting-edge wafer fabs takes time (years, not months).

It’s clear the industry is painfully aware of this capacity crunch and ongoing threats to their supplies. Jaguar Land Rover recently pointed to chip shortages for its £9 million loss in the last three months of 2021. Retaining flexibility in design, choice of manufacturing and agility in working with different mixes of components will be crucially important to the automotive industry in the next 24 months.

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