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Taiwan diode, MCU makers eyeing automotive market

Taiwan-based diode and MCU makers have stepped up their deployments for the automotive market recently, eyeing future opportunities presented by the rapid development of electric vehicles (EVs).

Despite uncertainties caused by automotive chip shortages and supply chain disruptions this year, the global automotive electrification trend remains clear. Major IDMs such as STMicroelectronics, Infineon, Onsemi, Renesas, Rohm and NXP have all installed production capacity for automotive products, while Taiwan-based power component suppliers have adjusted operation strategies in response to the future vehicle progress.

After announcing plans to split the SpaceX stock in February, Elon Musk said this week that Tesla is also pursing a stock split. The US-based EV maker has set an ambitious sales growth target for 2022. Its gigafactory in Brandenburg, Germany began operation on March 23 with a projected annual production capacity of 500,000 EVs, and its Taiwan-based power component suppliers are optimistic about opportunities that the new plant will bring.

Industry sources pointed out that Tesla uses core power modules supplied by major IDMs and that Taiwan-based leadframe makers Shuen Der Industry (SDI) and Jih Lin Technology have cut into the assembly supply chain of these IDMs. The sources said the demand for automotive and industrial management backend materials supplied by these IDMs is relatively strong right now.

Demand for basic power components, especially for automotive electronics, is also rising, the sources said, adding that Diode makers such as Eris Technology, Diodes, Pan Jit International, and Taiwan Semiconductor have all been deepening their deployments for the automotive electronics market.

With Diode being one of its shareholders, Eris Technology is expected to see revenue growth starting from March this year, the sources continued. Pan Jit International will begin operating its 8-inch fab in Kaohsiung and its new assembly plant in China soon, while Taiwan Semiconductor is working with UMC to develop automotive power components, such as MOSFET, the sources said.

Automotive diode maker Actron Technology is also seeing strong shipment for its low-loss diodes (LLDs) and ultra-low-loss diodes (ULLDs), the sources noted. The company has been deepening deployments for power modules, including auto-use 48V MOSFET modules, SiC power modules, insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) modules, the sources added.

Meanwhile, sources at assembly and test OEMs pointed out that global IDMs are currently controlling the automotive MCU market and that Taiwan-based companies are still in their initial stage of growth. Since automotive MCUs require longer testing time, Taiwan-based IC testing service providers, such as King Yuan Electronics (KYEC), Sigurd Microelectronics, Ardentec, Terapower Technology, and ASE are expected to extend their visibility of orders, the sources explained.

Sources at retailers also said that 50% of STMicroelectronics' production capacity goes toward its automotive and industrial management businesses. They expect Nuvoton, Megawin, Padauk, Holtek Semiconductor, Generalplus Technology, and other MCU makers will benefit from the market demand for high-end consumer MCUs and industrial management MCUs.