CEO update – the importance of automotive electronics


Oliver MaiwaldAnyone involved in the automotive electronics industry has known about the growing importance of electrical and electronic systems in the car. We have all seen the number of ECUs rise dramatically even within standard car models, with all aspects of the car seeing greater electrification. And of course, when you look at the trend to more (semi-) autonomous vehicles, this importance is only going to rise.  


In fact, at the recent (March 6th) SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) Europe 2017 in Munich some of the speakers touched on this point. According to a report by the German firm PwC in 2013 the ‘electronic components share of vehicle production cost’ was already forecast to be 30% in 2015 and set to be 50% by 2030. And with some figures suggesting that 80% of all automotive innovations are directly or indirectly enabled by semiconductors, it is not surprising that Automotive OEMs are becoming more actively involved in semiconductor developments. 


So, when Audi mentioned their Progressive SemiConductor Program (PSCP) at ISS it was actually a confirmation of the importance of semiconductors and electronics to the industry. The benefits to car OEMs of the collaboration and cooperation that can be achieved by working together with 1st tier suppliers and semiconductor manufacturers are clear. From potentially decreasing the time-to-market of innovations to easing the way for innovations from other mobile / consumer markets to be introduced. 


Of course, for autonomous driving, the physical semiconductors and electronic systems are just one part of the story. Software and standards also play a vital role and here more examples of co-optition are appearing. At the end of 2015 Audi AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG joined together to acquire Nokia's mapping unit, HERE. And more recently we’ve seen the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) and European Automotive and Telecom Alliance (EATA) join together to develop and promote use cases, standardization, spectrum, and pre-deployment projects for Cellular-V2X.


What this will mean in the future is still unclear, but the focus on (semi-) autonomous vehicles and the electrification of car systems has clearly become much sharper.


Oliver Maiwald


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