Chinese authorities last fall called on Chinese automakers to more actively use locally produced semiconductor components in their products, but despite these calls, market participants’ interest grew. Some are ready to produce chips themselves, others are focused on development.
At a conference for semiconductor market participants in Wuxi, Fu Bingfeng, vice president of the China Automobile Manufacturers Association, noted: “With increasing protectionism, automotive semiconductor components have become the focus of competition. We can create a new automotive semiconductor industry.”. This industry association this week set up a special committee that will oversee the production and supply of chips to meet the needs of China’s automotive industry.
China’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer BYD is already independently producing power semiconductor components, the release said Nikkei Asian Review. Another major automaker, Great Wall Motor, began producing chips at a partner’s factory in Wuxi in the fall. “In-house” chips are already installed in Haval crossovers.
The Chinese company Geely, which controls the Volvo, Zeekr and Lynk & Co brands, founded a joint venture with Arm China back in 2018, which developed the Longying One processor, which is responsible for image processing as part of on-board active driver assistance systems. The chip is made using 7nm technology by a third-party manufacturer and was first used in the Lynk & Co 08 crossover, which debuted in September. Geely will use this processor in other brands of cars it owns.
The startup NIO also develops certain types of chips itself; the company has development teams in China and the USA. They managed to develop a chip that works in conjunction with lidars. According to a Chinese automaker, a classic ICE car typically uses no more than 500 chips, while an electric car requires at least 1,300 chips. According to Chinese analysts, a car with a level four autopilot function according to the SAE classification, which does not require driver intervention in the control process, can contain more than 3,000 semiconductor components.
At the same time, no more than 10% of the chips needed by the local automotive industry are produced in China. This is two times lower than the level of “self-sufficiency” characteristic of Chinese industry as a whole. Contract chipmaker SMIC, which has recently started producing a range of different 7nm processors for Huawei’s needs, has expressed interest in expanding its collaboration with Chinese automakers.