Automotive MEMS sensors to return to healthy growth in 2012

August 24, 2011 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The automotive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensor market will reach new heights in 2012, leaving behind the ups and downs of the last two years, including the impact of the recent Japan earthquake, according to the new IHS iSuppli Automotive MEMS Market Tracker from information and analysis provider IHS.

Global automotive MEMS sensor revenue will jump a solid 16 percent in 2012 to $2.31 billion on its way to $2.93 billion in 2015, as shown in the figure below. The years ahead also will see expansion continuing at a healthy clip, with the overall five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 to 2015 projected at 9 percent.

“The next few years will bring strong growth in automotive MEMS sensor revenue as vehicle production recovers rapidly and safety system mandates begin to accelerate toward full fitment in the regions of their implementation,” said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS.

This year, however, will see the market decelerate as a result of the Japanese quake impact in March.

Global automotive MEMS revenue in 2011 is projected to reach $1.99 billion, up just 4 percent from $1.91 billion in 2010, compared to last year’s 28 percent expansion.

Automotive MEMS unit shipments in 2011 also are set for relatively tepid growth, up only 9 percent to 750.7 million units, compared to a 36 percent increase last year.

“The March quake in Japan is anticipated to result in a production loss of some 2 million vehicles this year throughout the car-manufacturing supply chain,” Dixon said. ”Although some of this will be recovered in 2011, the loss in vehicle production could entail a shortfall in sensor shipments equivalent to some 20 million units this year.”

In addition to the negative impact on MEMS suppliers, the earthquake is making its tremors felt at major local Japanese Tier 1 automotive electronics suppliers, including Denso, which suffered a poor second quarter in 2011 after sales fell 22 percent from the previous corresponding period.

The return to fast growth in the automotive MEMS market after 2011 will be driven by a recovery in vehicle production in the years ahead. Furthermore, automotive safety mandates on electronic stability control systems (ESC) that require multiple MEMS sensors