[EPNC=Nari Lee] The automotive magnetic sensor market enjoyed a strong recovery in 2016 and into 2017. Gone were the currency dips and uncertainties of 2015, replaced by stronger demand for sensors.
The automotive magnetic sensor market is now forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9 percent from 2016 to 2023, reaching $1.6 billion.
As sensors get smarter, their costs also rise, so the typical price erosion in the industry will slow down or even reverse. This situation will lead to even stronger market growth in the future, especially as the popularity of magnetoresisitive (MR) sensors increases for safety-critical applications, since they tend to be inherently more expensive than Hall-effect or inductive-based sensors.
The major forces sculpting today’s automotive landscape are advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) — the precursors to self-driving cars – and the electrification of the powertrain. The following primary factors are positively affecting the market for magnetic sensors:
For some safety-critical applications, like wheel speed and steering, there are increasingly higher demands on performance, due to the need for more accuracy in measurements.
Increased self-awareness of sensors with improved focus on self-diagnostics.
More sensors in the same package or system, to enable redundancy in support of ISO26262 functional safety rules.
A more robust electrical environment under the hood. A large electric propulsion motor inherently causes greater electrical fields, which adversely affect the magnetic sensor signal.
Moreover, the number engine sensors will decrease by as many as 15 to 20, if the engine is replaced by an electric motor, like those found in battery electric vehicles (BEVs). However, in the next 15 years, hybrids will increasingly dominate the market, and the number of sensors will stay relatively constant.
There are more than 60 magnetic sensor applications, on average, in cars sold in Europe, Japan, North America and other markets like China. The major sensing applications include steering, braking, acceleration pedal and electronic throttle systems (e.g., where two sensors are regularly incorporated to enable redundancy — often taking different technologies for each sensor, to avoid potential similarities in failure modes).
The latter practice is driving the requirement for more sensor diversity, which is leading sensor companies to diversify their technology portfolios. Many companies already have in-house developed Hall-effect sensing technology, but these same companies either now have, or will acquire anisotropic magnetoresistive (AMR), giant magnetoresistive sensing (GMR) or tunnel-magnetoresistive sensors (TMR) technology.
To meet this increased technology diversity among magnetic sensors, companies having been broadening their portfolios in the last two to three years.
In fact, most magnetic sensor companies posted strong growth in 2016 — especially companies like Allegro and Infineon — thanks to their leading position in supplying sensors for steering systems and other safety-critical applications. A typical steering system includes two angle sensors, two torque sensors and even steering-motor-control sensors. As a result of this focus, Infineon, Allegro Microsystems, Melexis, Micronas and NXP control 90 percent of the market for magnetic sensors.
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