Bosch was the top supplier last year of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors for the important automotive space, thanks to a dominant position in a broad portfolio of products that made the German-based maker more than twice as large as its nearest competitor, according to a MEMS & Sensors market tracker report from information and analytics provider IHS.
While Bosch's automotive MEMS revenue in 2012 had relatively modest growth of 4.5 percent within the Top 10, its total takings of $625 million put the firm far ahead of Denso of Japan, the No. 2 player at $296 million. Bosch's feat repeated its achievement last year when it was also more than $300 million ahead of Denso.
Two other companies had revenue in the $200 million range, followed by four players each with revenue well exceeding $100 million.
Overall, the Top 10 posted combined revenue of $2.1 billion, up 5.7 percent from $2.0 billion in 2011. The Top 10 last year accounted for nearly 94 percent of total auto MEMS industry revenue of $2.3 billion.
The rest of the Top 10 included Panasonic and Murata of Japan; Germany's Infineon Technologies and Silicon Microstructures (whose parent, Elmos, is located in Germany); and U.S.-based Sensata Technologies, Freescale Semiconductor, Analog Devices Inc. and Delphi Electronics.
Bosch, Denso and Panasonic make up the Top 3
Although affected by unfavorable exchange rates between the euro and the U.S. dollar, Bosch remained the most successful supplier by far of MEMS sensors for the automotive trade in 2012. Bosch owes its strong standing to a captive internal market within the giant Bosch conglomerate, which also happens to be one of the most successful Tier 1 companies worldwide.
To illustrate the breadth of its reach, Bosch is not only the top supplier of pressure sensors-projected to be the top revenue-generating device for MEMS this year-it is also the No. 1 maker of MEMS for low-pressure categories such as manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensors and barometric absolute pressure (BAP) sensors, as well as for high-pressure applications like common fuel rail and gasoline-direct injection systems.
Bosch's automotive MEMS performance benefited overall from the rising sales of safety equipment, especially in electronic stability control (ESC) systems to reduce vehicle skidding, where the company is among the largest players for accelerometers, gyroscopes and pressure sensors. Following a trend that includes the accelerometer and gyroscopes in single packages (combo sensors) to reduce overall costs for ESC systrem manufacturers, Bosch was the leading supplier last year, just ahead of Murata.
In the runner-up spot behind Bosch was Denso, with revenue up 3.4 percent for the year. Approximately half of Denso's business centers on Japanese automaker Toyota, but the rest of its customer base has been diversifying in recent years. Denso is also the top supplier of MEMS sensors for HVAC systems including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, with the HVAC application second only to the company's airbag accelerometers, which made up a large portion of Denso's revenue in 2012.
Panasonic was in third place with revenue of $208 million, up 2.8 percent. Most of the Japanese maker's sales come from automotive gyroscopes, reflecting a narrower palette compared to its two bigger rivals. The company was the undisputed leader for in-dash navigation gyroscopes, and it equaled Bosch in the supply of gyroscopes in ESC safety applications.
Rest of market is solid, too
Rounding out the Top 5 was Massachusetts-based Sensata Technologies, in fourth place with $200 million, up 5.3 percent; and Freescale Semiconductor from California, close behind in fifth spot with $199 million, up 4.0 percent. Sensata is No. 1 in high-pressure applications ahead of Bosch and Denso, while Freescale is the leading supplier of satellite airbag accelerometers.
The highest growth in the Top 10 was posted by No. 9 Murata, up a massive 23.1 percent to $127 million, largely due to its strong position in ESC accelerometers and ESC combo sensors. Also enjoying solid revenue increases were No. 10 Silicon Microstructures, up 11.6 percent to $45 million; No. 6 Analog Devices, up 9.0 percent to $175 million; and Infineon, up 8.5 percent to $151 million.
The lone member of the Top 10 to decline was No. 9 Delphi, down 2.2 percent to $63 million, whose major application in airbag sensing has been waning.
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