The global shortage of chips is causing automobile manufacturers to rethink their own supply chains when it comes to semiconductor components. Instead of purchasing chips such as microcontrollers and power management circuits from suppliers via a network, the first companies are increasingly taking care of the production capacities of chip contract manufacturers themselves.
She has such a deal BMW Group together with its partner Inova Semiconductors and Globalfoundries (GF). In this context, GF BMW guarantees several million microcontrollers a year for the ISELED lighting system, which will initially be used in the iX electric SUV. Before BMW, Ford announced a cooperation with the chip order manufacturer GF.
The ISELED system uses colored RGB diodes with tiny integrated controllers with which the light sources can be calibrated. In this way, BMW ensures that the entire interior lights up in the same color if desired and that a red in one corner does not drown into an orange shade. The calibration saves the sorting of LEDs from a batch, the so-called binning. Since the microcontrollers hardly require any chip area, thousands fit on a single silicon wafer. According to the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI) There are an average of 900 semiconductor components in a car. There are already several thousand in modern luxury cars.
Tesla interested in its own semiconductor plant
Nice in May 2021 reported the Financial Timesthat Tesla wants to secure further production contingents from various chip order manufacturers in the USA, Taiwan and South Korea. The automobile manufacturer has its own processors manufactured by TSMC, but purchases other semiconductor components like the competition from suppliers. In addition to TSMC, Samsung and Intel could also be considered as partners.
Tesla wants according to the Financial Times even go a step further and consider buying an entire semiconductor plant to gain control over production. The primary focus should be the manufacture of small chips that do not require any current manufacturing technology, such as power management circuits (PMIC). Developing new manufacturing processes in-house would not be possible on such a small scale.
Alternatively, the joint operation of a production facility with one of the large chip order manufacturers would be conceivable. TSMC and Sony in Japan have just agreed on such a model – both companies have founded a joint venture for the new semiconductor plant.
Of the Market watcher Gartner expects meanwhilethat by 2025 half of the world’s ten largest automobile manufacturers will design their own semiconductor components and even order them from chip contract manufacturers. The importance of suppliers in this area should decrease accordingly.