As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles（NEV, which includes BEV/PHEV/FCV）are continuing to rise as well. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.
Due to the vast scale of the Chinese market, as well as domestic policies favorable for the growth of BEV/PHEV/FCV, various NEV brands have quickly emerged in China in recent years, such as BYD Auto, Aion（formerly GAC NE）, and BAIC BJEV. At the market’s peak, NEV manufacturers in China once numbered in the hundreds, although that number has since dwindled somewhat, as the intense competition resulted in declining sales and market shares for many automakers, including BAIC and JAC.
Four rising stars among emerging NEV manufacturers in China include NIO, XPeng, Lixian（or Li Auto）, and Weltmeister, all of which have been shipping tens of thousands of mass production vehicles each year. In particular, while NIO, XPeng, and Lixiang registered significant growths in the past few years, Weltmeister also ranked number two in terms of sales in 2019, though it fell to fourth place in 2020 as it delivered fewer vehicles compared to the top three competitors last year.
In light of the aforementioned four automakers’ current expansions, TrendForce has summarized several key aspects of their growths, including the following:
1. Autonomous Driving Technologies: Autonomous driving is not only part and parcel of these automakers’ core competencies but also a reflection of what consumers and investors expect of the automotive industry. In pursuing advanced autonomous driving technologies, the four automakers have been adopting increasingly powerful processors and computing platforms, with Nvidia being the most common partner among emerging NEV manufacturers. Remarkably, XPeng stands out as the only player making a noticeable effort to develop in-house chips.
2. LiDAR: LiDAR is integrated into an increasing number of vehicles in response to the growing demand for advanced self-driving functionalities. Although LiDAR remains out of reach for vehicles in certain price segments, autonomous driving sensors including LiDAR are no longer limited to flagship models since new NEV models’ E/E architectures are expected to be compatible with OTA updates.
LiDAR sensor demand from NEV manufacturers has significantly increased because only by pre-installing hardware ahead of time in their vehicles can automakers enable autonomous driving functionalities as a paid subscription service through OTA updates later on.
3. Battery-swapping: Battery-swapping are relatively attractive for the Chinese NEV industry for several reasons: First, battery-swappable vehicles are excluded from China’s NEV subsidy limits*; second, automakers can now afford to lower the retail price of vehicles by turning batteries into a subscription service; finally, it’s much convenience for driver because battery swapping is faster than battery charging.
For instance, NIO’s entire NEV lineup is compatible with both battery charging and battery swapping. NIO has been pushing its BaaS（battery as a service）and second-gen battery swap stations since 2020. On the other hand, Weltmeister and XPeng are also making their respective battery-swapping strategies.
4. Capacity Expansion and Overseas Strategies: The aforementioned four automakers all place a heavy emphasis on both expanding their production capacities and growing their overseas market shares. Their capacity expansion efforts include building in-house production lines, acquiring other facilities, or jointly funding automotive production with OEMs/ODMs. Regarding overseas expansion, their primary destination is the European market, which is relatively favorable to NEVs.
For instance, NIO and XPeng choose Norway as their first target market in Europe. However, while the European automotive market is conducive to the growth of NEVs in terms of both policies and cultures, competition among automakers is also correspondingly intense. In addition, most European countries prefer either domestic brands or other European brands. Therefore, Chinese automakers must prioritize gaining consumer trust via establishing a trustworthy brand image.
*China’s subsidies for NEV purchases are restricted to NEVs with a retail price of CN¥300,000 and under. However, NEVs with swappable batteries do not fall under this restriction.
As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles (NEV, which includes both BEV and PHEV) are continuing to rise as well, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.
TrendForce indicates that electrification, smartization, and automation are the three key determinants of the ongoing transformation taking place in the automotive industry. Guided by these three determinants, not only are the strategies, business models, and competitions of automakers transforming, but the automotive supply chain is also changing and expanding. Upstream component suppliers and downstream manufacturers alike are now operating in accordance with new paradigms.
High potential for NEV growth entices emerging competitors to enter the market
Now that the competition between traditional and emerging automakers in the NEV market is gradually intensifying, traditional automakers have begun releasing BEVs that are based on purely electric platforms rather than preexisting ICE vehicles. However, for the vast majority of mainstream automakers, NEV sales account for less than 10% of their total car sales. These automakers are therefore placing a top priority on expanding the lineup and sales volume of their NEV models. Emerging automakers, on the other hand, are instead focusing on expanding their production capacities, and Tesla as well as Chinese brands (including NIO and XPeng) have made their respective capacity expansion plans.
NEV sales currently account for only 5% of total automotive sales. As such, not only does the NEV market still have high potential for growth, but this potential has also attracted new players, which are mostly consumer electronics and IoT vendors such as Xiaomi and OPPO, to enter the market. Given their lack of competencies in developing and manufacturing whole vehicles, these companies are instead acquiring existing automakers or utilizing ODM services. Therefore, automotive ODM services are likely to ramp up going forward, while automakers and ODMs will continue building factories via joint ventures, sharing their technologies, and jointly developing NEV models.
As software and hardware technologies improve in the automotive industry, cars now have an increasing number of smart features in response to the demand for user friendliness; for instance, the Car2Home ecosystem was created as a natural extension of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology. Advances in automotive systems and technologies, however, do little to assuage prospective car buyers’ fears of instant depreciation and maintenance fees, which are both justified and frequently parroted by existing owners.
Recent years, however, have seen the emergence of a new technology known as OTA (over-the-air) that can at least address car buyers’ maintenance-related worries. Automakers can fix software issues in the car with OTA updates, thus saving the driver the time and effort it takes to perform a factory maintenance. Simply put, OTA is a cloud-based service that allows automakers to perform a host of actions, including software/firmware updates, OS upgrade, issue fixing, and security patches, through a cloud-network-car connection.
As such, OTA technologies are highly dependent on data encryption, decryption, and transmission, meaning OTA services involve not only software and cloud services vendors, but also cybersecurity companies as well. According to TrendForce’s investigations, about 72% of new cars sold in 2025 will be OTA-enabled vehicles thanks to advancements in V2X, automotive electronic/electrical architectures, and intra-vehicle communications.
OTA pioneer Tesla kicked off its OTA strategies in 2012
Tesla is perhaps the impetus responsible for the surge in OTA viability in the automotive industry. Elon Musk believes that cars should be appreciated, as opposed to depreciating, assets for the consumer. As part of that belief, all Tesla models are capable of OTA updates of software and firmware, reflected in Tesla’s revenues from “service and other”, which saw yearly growths from 2016 to 2020 (Tesla’s 2020 earnings from “service and other” alone surpassed US$2.4 billion). Therefore, Tesla’s sales volume will remain the key to the market size and penetration rate of OTA technology.
Other automakers, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GM, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen, also began rolling out OTA updates in their models from 2015 to 2020, although it wasn’t until the year 2020 did most of these companies perform OTA updates on any appreciable scale. Furthermore, most OTA updates were software updates as opposed to firmware updates (for ADAS and powertrain functionalities), since issuing firmware OTA updates still remains a major issue for automakers at the moment.
TrendForce also indicates that, should automakers wish to improve automotive functionalities with OTA updates, they would need to completely overhaul their cars’ electronic and electrical architectures. In this light, one of the prerequisites of performing functional OTA updates is the availability of compatible hardware in cars.
For instance, in order to activate LiDAR functionality, automakers must first equip a car with LiDAR hardware. Once self-driving technology matures to the point when it is deemed appropriate to be enabled on a given car, then automakers can activate the necessary LiDAR functionality with OTA updates.
Of course, all of this hinges on whether automakers are willing to bear the cost of preemptively equipping their cars with the necessary hardware, as well as whether they have any faith in the success of new services/functions to be activated by OTA in the future. Most importantly, however, if consumers were uninterested in these services and functions, then automakers would have no way of recouping their preemptive investments in the aforementioned hardware.
On the whole, despite most automakers’ planned to roll out the capability of OTA updates to their vehicles, they still face bottlenecks in performing OTA updates safely and providing useful upgrades for users. Only by overcoming these hurdles will automakers effectively improve the driving experience and convince car owners as well as prospective buyers that OTA is a worthy investment.
TSMC’s Fab14 P7 in the Southern Taiwan Science Park suffered a power outage on April 14th. The cause of the power outage was an accidental severing of an underground power cable during construction work nearby. According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, the facility accounts for around 4% of TSMC’s total 12-inch wafer foundry capacity and around 2% of the global 12-inch wafer foundry capacity, and TSMC is still assessing the exact figures for the wafers that have to be scrapped and the wafers that can be reworked.
According to the latest available information, power was fully restored to the fab site at 7:30 p.m. on April 14th. The diesel uninterruptible power supply (DUPS) of the facility kicked in instantly when the power cable was cut, but there was still a short period of power interruption and voltage drop. As a result, some of the equipment systems in the facility temporarily experienced operational irregularity or malfunction. Based on past experiences with this type of incident, TrendForce believes that it will take 2-7 days to recalibrate the equipment systems so that they can return to normal operation.
For TSMC, this power outage incident has had implications on both revenue and production. With respect to revenue, TrendForce’s own analysis indicates that the disposal of the wafers that are too damaged for rework will bring about a revenue impact of US$10-25 million. This amount represents less than 0.1% of TSMC’s annual total revenue.
On the other hand, with respect to production, the Fab14 P7 facilities contain 45/40nm and 16/12nm production lines, and the outage will primarily impair end products including smartphones and automobiles, since automotive chips, which are in extreme shortage at the moment, are manufactured at the 45/40nm nodes, and 45/40nm capacities are among the most insufficient among all foundry capacities.
TrendForce further indicates that clients whose wafer inputs for automotive MCU and CIS logic products (manufactured at the 45/40nm nodes) are bearing the brunt of the outage’s impact mainly include NXP, Renesas, and Sony. In particular, Sony CIS 40nm Logic products are primarily supplied for high-end smartphones. However, as Sony manufactures these products in its in-house facilities as well, even if TSMC were to fully discard this batch of wafers, Sony’s supplies will remain relatively unaffected in the short run.
On the other hand, after the automotive market entered a gradual recovery in 2H20, automotive MCUs have been in shortage due to automakers’ insufficient inventory. Furthermore, a fire broke out at Renesas’ Naka-based 12-inch fab on March 19, and the fab’s cleanrooms were severely damaged as a result.
As of now, manufacturing operations at the Naka fab have yet to resume. Since TSMC has been allocating some of its production capacities in Fab14 to these products as a substitute for the Naka fab, TrendForce believes that the power outage incident will likely exacerbate the shortage of automotive MCUs going forward.
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The COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted the global auto market and in turn damaged the automotive LED industry in 1H20, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In 2H20, however, the gradual recovery of vehicle sales as well as the development of NEVs provided some upward momentum for the automotive LED industry, whose revenue for the year reached US$2.572 billion, a 3.7% decline YoY. Automotive LED revenue for 2021 is projected to reach $2.926 billion, a 13.7% growth YoY, thanks to the increasing demand for automotive headlights and display panels. As automakers continue to incorporate LED lighting solutions into new car models, the penetration rate of automotive LED will continue to undergo a corresponding increase as well.
TrendForce analyst Joanne Wu indicates that, in the automotive LED player revenue ranking of 2020, OSRAM Opto Semiconductors, Nichia, and Lumileds remained the top three largest automotive LED suppliers, respectively, with a combined market share of 71.9%. In particular, European and American automakers favored OSRAM’s solutions for their high-end vehicle models and NEVs due to the high quality of OSRAM products. Adoption by these automakers subsequently became the main revenue driver of OSRAM’s automotive LED business.
On the other hand, the pandemic caused Japanese automakers to suspend their operations and therefore had a direct impact on the revenues and market shares of Japanese LED suppliers, such as Nichia and Stanley, in 2020. Nichia and Stanley saw their revenues decline by 9.8% YoY and 7% YoY, respectively, and were the two suppliers among the top 10 last year to have shown relatively noticeable declines. Seoul Semiconductor’s nPola and Wicop LED products were adopted by Chinese automakers, including CCAG, SAIC-GM, and NIO, due to these products’ high brightness and compact sizes. Seoul Semiconductor’s market share reached 5.1% in 2020. Finally, not only did other suppliers, including Samsung LED and CREE, deliver consistent performances in the automotive aftermarket (AM) and performance market (PM) segments, but they also gradually began entering the automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) lighting market. Samsung LED and CREE each took seventh and ninth place on the 2020 ranking with a 2.8% and 1.1% market share, respectively.
On the whole, TrendForce finds that automotive demand has been recovering since 4Q20. Accordingly, LED suppliers indicate that their booking orders appear bullish throughout 2021, meaning most LED suppliers now need to extend their product lead times in response. At the same time, LED players indicated that double booking might happen in the near future. Thereby, they will make decisions in light of the actual booking order quantity to see the possibility of increasing prices.
(Cover image source: OSARM)
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