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Behind the car companies grabbing the “core”, the road to localization has a long way to go

01: Huge market potential, strong demand for automotive-grade chips.

In short, automotive-grade chips are all chip products used in automobiles, which are mainly divided into three categories:

  • The first category is responsible for computing and processing, represented by MCU (Microcontroller Unit) and AI chips. Microcontrollers are widely used in the automotive field, such as wipers, windows, seats, safety systems, BMS control systems, body control, power control, etc. AI chips are mainly used in the field of autonomous driving, which can meet the huge computing needs of cars and are the “brains” of smart cars and driverless cars.
  • The second category is power semiconductors, which are mainly used in automotive power control systems, lighting systems, fuel injection systems, and chassis safety systems. New energy vehicles require a large number of power semiconductors to meet the frequent voltage conversion requirements of vehicles, such as IGBT, silicon carbide, etc.
  • The third type is the automotive sensor, which is responsible for converting the information of various working conditions in the operation of the vehicle, such as vehicle speed, various medium temperatures, engine operating conditions, etc. Convert it into an electrical signal and send it to a computer. According to different uses, it can be divided into sensors with functions such as measuring temperature, pressure, flow rate, position, gas concentration, speed, brightness, dry humidity, distance, etc.

Traditional gasoline cars, the average car may only need 500 to 600 chips. In recent years, automobiles are moving towards the “new four modernizations” of electrification, intelligence, networking, and sharing, and the status of chips has been further enhanced. The average number of chips in a car is as high as more than 1,000, and the number of chips in new energy vehicles can exceed 2,000, and the number of chips in smart cars is even higher. According to Ho, chairman and CEO of Xpeng Motors recently revealed.

Behind the car companies grabbing the “core”, the road to localization has a long way to go

Under the trend of “new four modernizations” in automobiles, there is a strong demand for various automotive chips: the trend of intelligence has led to the demand for sensor chips such as CIS, MEMS and lasers; under the trend of networking, ECU, MCU and other markets Strong demand; in the trend of electrification, the role of power semiconductors is increasingly prominent. The automotive chip market has huge potential.

02: The localization rate is only 5%. What are the difficulties of automotive specification chips?

Due to the late start of domestic chip companies, the technology accumulation time is not long, and the mainstream American, Japanese and European car brands have fixed supply chains. The production rate is low. Zeng Qinghong, chairman of GAC Group, said that the self-sufficiency rate of China’s auto chips is less than 10%, the localization rate is only 5%, and the supply is highly dependent on foreign countries.


It can be seen from the development status of domestic automotive specification chips that compared with consumer chips, automotive specification chips do not require very advanced process technology, but considering the safety and functionality of automobiles, automotive specification chip products are in reliability, There are very stringent requirements for consistency, security, stability and long-term performance.

At the same time, the development of automotive-spec chips does not easily pay off. The product development and certification cycle is long and the investment scale is large. Automobile companies have maintained long-term and stable cooperative relations with international chip manufacturers. After the mass production of the car is launched, they will not easily change the core chip supplier. It will take some time for domestic chip manufacturers to enter the supply chain of auto companies as “latecomers”.

03: Overtaking on corners, locking in new opportunities in the chip market

Automotive-grade chips have become a hot topic of discussion at this year’s two sessions. Leaders of many auto companies have expressed a desire to change the industry status quo in terms of policy, multi-party cooperation and technology. These suggestions help to solve the problem of “core deficiencies” in the automotive industry, and have important reference significance for promoting the localization and development of automotive-grade chips in the field of traditional fuel vehicles. There is a large gap between domestic and foreign companies. However, China’s auto industry is constantly changing in the direction of the “new four modernizations”. On the new track of smart cars and new energy vehicles, domestic and foreign companies are standing on the same track, and domestic auto-spec chip manufacturers are facing new opportunities to change lanes and overtake. AI chip MCU and power semiconductor are expected to become important breakthroughs for domestic companies to catch up or even surpass foreign companies.

At present, there are many “players” of domestic automotive AI chips, including horizon, Cambrian, Baidu, Alibaba, Huawei, etc. They have accumulated rich technical experience and the product application is progressing smoothly. For example, horizon has launched Travel 5, an AI processor designed for advanced autopilots, targeting L4-L5 level autopilots. Recently, Horizon announced that it has reached cooperation with BYD and Hongqi, and the Journey 5 will carry related models of the two car companies.

The global MCU market is highly concentrated, and foreign chip giants such as NXP, Infineon and Renesas Electronics occupy the main market, and automotive MCUs are no exception. The penetration rate of domestic enterprises is low. However, a large number of enterprises such as BYD Semiconductor, Jiefa Technology, Guoxin Technology, Xinwangwei, Chipwe, and Saitengwei are still achieving mass production and shipment. Its products are mainly used in low-end fields such as lamps, windows, and car wipers. At the same time, domestic manufacturers are also actively deploying the mid-to-high-end vehicle MCU market to achieve autonomous control in mid-to-high-end fields such as automotive electronics, industrial control, and the Internet of Things.

AI chips and MCUs are the key technologies for automotive intelligence. Power semiconductors play an important role in vehicle electrification, represented by third-generation power semiconductors such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride.

Jibang consulting predicts that the market size of silicon carbide gallium nitride power semiconductors will grow to $1.84 billion in 2022 and $5.29 billion in 2025. Among them, automotive and consumer electronics applications dominate the development of the silicon carbide and gallium nitride power markets, respectively.

On the manufacturer side, silicon carbide companies such as Italian-French Semiconductor, Infineon, wolfspeed, Roma and ansenmey have established comprehensive partnerships with leading automotive companies. Domestic manufacturers are also actively promoting the progress of silicon carbide for domestic vehicles, and have made good progress, including Hanxin, Tyco Tianrun, Pinjet, Zhanxin, Elster, etc., as well as BYD, Xing, Xinxin, etc. Juneng and other manufacturers engaged in the packaging of silicon carbide modules.

Gallium nitride is limited by issues such as reliability, but car companies have experimented with the technology. It is believed that in the future, as silicon-based gallium nitride components develop towards high-voltage tolerance, vertical structure devices continue to make breakthroughs, and gallium nitride and silicon carbide are expected to jointly seize the high-voltage automotive component market.


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