China Emerges as Worlds Fastest-Growing Automotive MEMS Market

Driven by the aggressive implementation of vehicle safety and pollution mandates, China has emerged as the world’s fastest-growing country for sales of automotive microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), according to a new IHS iSuppli Automotive MEMS Market Brief from information and analysis provider IHS.

China’s automotive MEMS market is expected to expand to $387.9 million in 2015, up from $194.3 million in 2010. This equates to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 14.8 % significantly higher than the worldwide average of 9%. “MEMS are a key enabling technology to improve the safety and reduce carbon emissions in motor vehicles,” commented Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. “With China’s car sales booming and its sensor usage soaring, the country’s automotive MEMS market is set for world-leading growth through the year 2015.”

Car market gets back in gear
The expansion of the global automotive MEMS market is being fueled by a revived passenger vehicle industry, which is projected to rebound from the economic slump. Production of passenger cars for the Chinese market is set to increase to 22.2 million units in 2015, up from 16.3 million in 2010.

Overall, China will remain the world’s third biggest user of automotive MEMS sensors during the five-year period, ahead of Japan and a collection of countries under the designation “Rest of the World.” North America will continue to lead the space, followed by Europe. Global automotive MEMS revenue is forecast to hit $2.9 billion in 2015, up more than 50 % from $1.9 billion in 2010.

Currently the largest automotive MEMS applications in terms of unit shipments are airbags, followed by silicon MEMS manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensors needed for engine management. However, TPMS will outpace airbags in 2015.

One other application, electronic stability control to help prevent skidding in vehicles, is currently underpenetrated in China and will remain so unless there is a government mandate. Official government recommendations have set a national standard in China for TPMS, which should have come into effect during July but will ramp up in mid-2012. China is adopting TPMS ahead of Japan with an eye to the practical benefits that can be derived: The feature in vehicles not only saves lives but affects the environment, as correct tire pressure results in better mileage and less carbon emissions. China’s prominent role in implementing TPMS for its vehicles will accelerate the global TPMS market to a fitment rate of 73 % by 2015.

By next year, more high-end vehicle models in China will be equipped with TPMS ahead of other mandates, such as adaptive front headlights, brake assist and adaptive cruise control, IHS research indicates.