The electronic content of modern day cars is far higher than that was seen just a few years ago. Electronic systems and semiconductors are replacing electro-mechanical components like relays and fuses in the automotive segment, for reasons like efficiency, reliability and space-saving. Semiconductors and electronic systems are being designed and developed by a large number of players in the country, and Infineon Technologies India Pvt Ltd has major presence in this segment.
Infineon recently conducted its annual automotive road-show in a three-city format, where it showcased its various solutions for clients in the automotive segment. We met Hans Joachim Schatz, Director, Automotive Sales, Infineon Technologies India, who spoke of trends in this segment, especially with regards to India.
AUTOMOTIVE SEMICONDUCTOR MARKET
Schatz observed that Infineon's business of semiconductors works in two parts in India. The first is the supply of solutions to international Tier I suppliers like Bosch, Continental and Delphi, who in turn mainly export their products. These customers mainly purchase electronic control units (ECU) for safety systems, including anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability program (ESP), as well as for powertrain systems.
The second part of Infineon's business deals with supplying solutions for the domestic market, which is highly influenced by two-wheelers, Schatz said. He added that the two-wheeler segment influence on the domestic market for automotive semiconductors is expected to grow in the years to come, which is important for Infineon's planning horizon. Within the two-wheeler segment, Infineon expects trends like electrification of powertrains, need for more reliable parts and the replacement of electro-mechanical parts to drive the demand for automotive semiconductors.
When talking about cost comparison between electro-mechanical components and electronic systems, the initial cost will be higher in case of electronic systems, noted Schatz. But, he added that the total cost of ownership of electronic components work out to be lower in the long run, due to their reliability and extended lifecycle.
With regards to ratio of products exported, against products sold in the domestic market, Schatz said Infineon currently exports about two-thirds of the total value of products manufactured. It also needs to be noted that the components exported are valued higher than components used domestically, since their applications are different. Infineon believes the numbers will increase for domestic sales, as the local demand is increasing and government policies are also favouring the development of local markets.
As electronic systems begin replacing electro-mechanical components, and become more common in mass market vehicles, the prices of these systems will also drop due to the volumes demanded, Schatz observed. This will, in turn lead to manufacturers adopting systems earlier seen only on high-end cars into their mass market passenger models. "Advanced systems today, will become mainstream systems in 10-20 years," Schatz said.
Additionally, when BS V norms come into effect, and if they are in line with the Euro V standards, all two-wheelers manufactured may require electronic fuel injection (EFI), Schatz said. The carburettor systems could be done away with, to meet emission standards, and this would fuel the need for more automotive semiconductors for the various electronic systems of EFI engines.
Infineon has a R&D centre, which it calls the Competence Centre for Hardware and Software Development, in Bangalore with about 300 employees. The R&D facility mainly focuses on software development, as well as on validation of the company's devices, Schatz said. Considering the market potential for two-wheelers, Schatz sees a higher chance of setting up two-wheeler R&D in India than that for EV technologies.
Some of the new products developed by the company include electronic flashers for two-wheeler applications and some other power semiconductor devices. These products have been developed since the company's last seminar, Schatz observed.
INFINEON AUTOMOTIVE ROAD-SHOW 2014
Infineon conducted its Automotive Road-Show 2014 in three cities – Bangalore, Pune and Delhi, where it showcased products and solutions to its customers from the automotive segment. Heads from various business units offered insights into the latest trends in each segment within the automotive industry, and offered solutions from Infineon for the same. Trends including the move from electro-mechanical devices to electronic systems, safety features like electronic power steering, ABS and tyre pressure monitoring systems and embedded power control systems were presented.
The road-show also had a demonstration area showcasing some of the company's latest products on offer. A few of them were live demonstrations that explained the typical working of Infineon's products.
Text: Naveen Arul