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News & Analysis Automotive Industry Drives Chip Demand

MUNICH — IC Insights compared the six most significant end-user markets for integrated circuits. These are the computer, consumer, communications, automotive, industrial/medical, and government/defense markets. During the time frame, until 2018, the IC demand from automotive customers is expected to exhibit the strongest average annual growth — 10.8% on average. This is significantly higher than the communications industry, at second place with 6.8%.

The computer market, once the IC growth driver per se, apparently is approaching saturation status. With 3.3% CAGR, it shows the lowest growth of all segments (albeit certainly at a very high sales level). In contrast, automotive chip demand is still growing from a smaller base. While a high semiconductor content in earlier years was associated to the luxury class, higher quantities of chips are installed now in vehicles of all categories.

Demand drivers include safety features that increasingly are becoming mandatory, such as backup cameras or eCall. But driver-assistance systems are also becoming ubiquitous. Future drivers will include connectivity, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, as well as sensors and controllers necessary for various degrees of autonomous driving.

IC Insight’s market researchers expect the total automotive market to grow 15%, to a volume of $21.7 billion in 2014, compared to a mere 1% increase registered in the past year. In the years ahead, a major geographical shift is expected: Since China has in the meantime become the world’s largest market for passenger cars, and these cars are increasingly being built locally, Asia-Pacific will surpass Europe as the largest market for automotive chips beginning in 2016.

It is also forecast that, with a CAGR of 20%, this geography will be the strongest region for the automotive IC market throughout 2020. The digitization and computerization of all automotive domains will leave their traces in the market: The market for memory chips will grow much faster than average. It is actually expected to more than double from 2014 to 2018, to $4.2 billion.

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

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Senators introduce auto industry whistle-blower bill

Washington— Two U.S. senators, including the incoming head of the Commerce Committee, will unveil legislation Thursday to allow auto industry employee whistle-blowers to potentially be paid millions if they reveal hidden dangers.

The bill would grant the secretary of transportation the discretion to award whistle-blowers up to 30 percent of the total monetary penalties resulting from Department of Transportation or Department of Justice enforcement actions that total more than $1 million. The bill covers employees or contractors of motor vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers and dealerships.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, are introducing the Thune-Nelson Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. The bill is being cosponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., the leaders of the Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection that held two hearings this year on General Motors’ delayed recalls.

The legislation “is intended to incentivize whistle-blowers from the automotive sector to voluntarily provide information to the U.S. Department of Transportation to prevent deaths and serious physical injuries by identifying problems much earlier than would have otherwise been possible,” the senators said in a statement.

It comes the same day that the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the recall by 10 major automakers of at least 7.8 million vehicles since 2013 for Takata air bags that may rupture and spew metal fragments.

The defect is linked to five deaths worldwide in Honda vehicles and more than 30 injuries. The committee will hear from Honda, Chrysler, Takata and the deputy chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman.

General Motors Co. in May paid a record $35 million fine to the NHTSA and agreed to up to three years of intense oversight by the safety agency.​ That means if a whistle-blower had alerted NHTSA, he or she could have received up to $10.5 million under the bill.

Toyota Motor Corp. in March paid a $1.2 billion fine for its delayed recalls linked to at least four deaths after it was charged with wire fraud in New York. No executives were charged criminally. The Justice Department announced a deferred prosecution agreement with Toyota after it admitted it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about safety. In theory, a Toyota whistle-blower could have collected a staggering sum of $360 million under the bill.

The Thune-Nelson bill marks the first significant auto safety proposal to receive backing of a top Republican. Democrats earlier this year in the House and Senate introduced sweeping auto safety reform measures including more than doubling NHTSA’s budget, hiking maximum fines for delaying recalls and allowing for up to life in prison for auto executives who delay callbacks for defects that result in fatalities.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a Detroit News interview Tuesday he is still considering introducing an auto safety reform bill and was holding meetings this week.

McCaskill, who heads a Senate Commerce panel, in August introduced a bill that “gives federal prosecutors greater discretion to bring criminal prosecutions for auto safety violations and increases the possible penalties, including up to life in prison for violations that result in death,” her office said.

The bill would do away with the current $35 million maximum fine on automakers for delaying recalls, and would hike the maximum per-vehicle fine from $5,000 to $25,000. Congress doubled the fines to $35 million in 2012. It also would double funding for NHTSA over six years.

The Thune-Nelson bill is modeled after similar whistle-blower protections that exist at the Internal Revenue Service and Securities and Exchange Commission.

But there are important hurdles.

The bill will cover “original information” not previously known to NHTSA relating to any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance or violation of any reporting requirement that is likely to cause risk of death or serious physical injury. The Transportation Department will assess whether the whistle-blower had the chance to report the problem internally and how significant the information is.

NHTSA would protect whistle-blowers identities. But they would get no money if convicted of a crime in connection with the issue — that is, if they were engineers who later were charged and found guilty of wrongdoing. Whistle-blowers not satisfied with the secretary’s decision could appeal.

A spokeswoman for Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx didn’t respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

Story by The Detroit News

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Senators to Introduce Whistleblower Bill for Auto Industry

Two senators will introduce legislation aimed at rewarding automotive industry whistleblowers who report faulty parts or other potential safety problems before they cause death or serious injuries.

The Thune-Nelson Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act would give the U.S. Department of Transportation the discretion to award whistleblowers as much as 30% of the total monetary penalties resulting from DOT or Justice Department…

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Auto industry is poised to grow for 6th straight year

The U.S. auto industry, which has been growing since the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, is poised for an unprecedented sixth straight annual sales increase next year, driven by job gains, readily available credit and lower prices at the pump.

Deliveries of new cars and light trucks in 2015 will probably total 16.7 million, the average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News and the most in a decade. This week, the National Automobile Dealers Association weighed in with an even more bullish forecast, predicting more than 16.9 million light-vehicle sales.

Additional jobs have given Americans confidence to take out loans on cars, and the cheapest gasoline in almost four years means one less thing to worry about when mulling a big-ticket purchase.

“Consumers are comfortable with their financial positions, and they’re not concerned that they’re about to lose their jobs,” said Alec Gutierrez, an industry analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “They’re buying cars not just because their car broke down, but because they might want something new and flashy, which signifies that they aren’t being completely risk-averse.”

Sales rose five years in a row twice since 1927, according to data compiled by researcher Autodata Corp. and trade publication Automotive News. Once was from 1933 to 1937, when the industry was still getting established. The second time was from 1996 to 2000, when sales peaked at 17.4 million.

Deliveries for 2015 could exceed this year’s by about 400,000 units. Growth rates have been slowing as sales approach the 16.8 million averaged from 2000 to 2007, before the financial crisis stymied demand and led to the bankruptcies of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

GM and Chrysler were propped up by aid given under then-President George W. Bush, then were shepherded through expedited bankruptcies by President Obama’s auto team. The U.S. and Canadian governments helped pay for the restructurings.

Sales rose by more than 10 percent each year from 2010 to 2012, then growth slowed to 7.6 percent last year. The total may rise by 4.5 percent this year, to 16.3 million, according to an earlier survey of analysts.

In 2016, sales may slide back to about 16.5 million, said Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the McLean, Va.-based dealers association. Deliveries will wind down as recent buyers pay down leases and loans, he said.

“In our view, 2015 could be the beginning of a plateau in sales,” he said.

“We may have another good year, but it’s hard to see us continuing at the rates we’ve seen the last few years.”

More incentives and increased purchases from young drivers would be needed for new-car sales to top 17 million next year, he said. Job gains could have “outsized effects on the millennial generation,” he said. Along with employment, cheap gasoline will continue to drive demand for new vehicles such as trucks and sport-utility vehicles, Szakaly said.

“Low gasoline prices aid with want-based decisions versus need-based decisions,” said Gutierrez, the KBB analyst who predicted 16.8 million sales next year. “It adds fuel to the fire. Consumers were already considering trucks and SUVs over more compact cars. Low gas prices only exacerbate the shift back toward vehicles that are larger and meet the demands of the consumer.”

Longer loan terms and lower monthly payments have lured consumers to dealerships. Auto loans increased $22 billion in the third quarter to about $941 billion, according to IHS Global Insight.

“If you have a job, you’re more likely to buy a car. If your job is steady, you’re more likely to commit to a loan,” said Lacey Plache, chief economist for car-shopping website

“The fact that automakers are assuming that risk says a lot about their confidence.”

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Dynamic of change is driving auto industry

“Irrespective of what the price of fuel is, if we are able to save customers money and fuel and still deliver a great performance, that would be great,” said Ford junior, Executive Chairman of the company that bears his family name. “We don’t those big engines any longer to deliver that kind of performance any longer.

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Peter Schwartz Warns Auto Industry Could Wind Up In Silicon Valley’s Back Seat

Renowned business strategist and futurist Peter Schwartz is issuing a warning to the automotive sector: Step up or step aside in steering the future of cars. The tech industry, he says, could become the main driver of new motorized transport technologies, including Internet-connected, self-driving cars.

“If [automakers] don’t adapt, they’ll just be hardware suppliers to a software industry,” Schwartz told a packed audience Tuesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo. “The very business model — who are the winners and losers — is up for change.”

The founder of the Berkeley, California-based strategic planning consultancy Global Business Network said he envisions a future where either automakers adapt quickly to the changes taking place in passenger cars, or risk having tech companies like Google and Apple swoop in to fill consumer needs on their own.

Already Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are battling for control of the vehicle dashboard touch-screen interface, and Google is taking a strong position on autonomous driving technology. And some Wall Street dreamers have even suggested that Apple dive right into car manufacturing by purchasing Tesla Motors Inc. (If it does, CEO Tim Cook might find himself, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk did during a recent conference call with analysts, lamenting how hard it is to engineer and make a car.)

The auto industry certainly recognizes the need to embrace the innovation.

Speaking at a business conference in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, outlined his company’s vision of the future of driving, which seems to correspond with Schwartz’s advice.

“We are equipping cars and trucks with new technologies that improve the driving experience, guide you to your destination, manage the car’s functions and keep you and your passengers entertained,” Ford told an audience of business executives in Dubai. “So we are building smart cars, and they will continue to get smarter.”

Ford outlined a vision where the future of driving focuses on the needs of congested urban environments where smart infrastructure and smaller, more connected forms of transport will be needed to cope with higher population densities. In what would have been industry sacrilege 20 to 30 years ago, Ford offered up a vision of “access” to transport rather than “ownership,” transport that is shared rather than individually owned.

“In congested urban environments, we will see more peer-to-peer applications and on-demand transportation networks,” he said, pointing to ridesharing services like Uber.

Ford Motor Co. three years ago released its vision of automotive transport through 2050, which predicted the arrival as early as 2017 of semi-autonomous driving, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication (smart roads that adjust speed limits in real time, the ability to warn of road construction or traffic jams well ahead of time) and growth in small city cars to navigate congested urban environments. Ford sees fully autonomous driving by as early as 2025.

Whether automakers will be able to innovate these technologies without the help of Silicon Valley is unlikely. Already major companies, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, have opened research labs in California to be close to where many of the innovations are taking place. But as many point out, making a car is not the same as designing a component that enables a car to perform a particular task.

“I don’t foresee that GM, Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai or whoever is going to do their engine development in Silicon Valley or have their crash-testing in Silicon Valley,” Sven Beiker, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, told Telematics Update, a publication devoted to vehicular technology. 

A modern vehicle contains tens of thousands of individual parts and takes years to develop at a cost of billions of dollars. If auto companies wind up making hardware that supports the tech industry’s software, the hardware will still be what matters most.

Schwartz may be a renowned tech futurist admired by Silicon Valley, but his rosy outlooks haven’t always squared with reality. His 1999 book “The Long Boom: A Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity,” co-authored with like-minded utopian visionaries Peter Leyden and Joel Hyatt, saw the first two decades of this century filled with tech-driven global prosperity and growth.

Published two years before 9/11 and eight years before the start of the longest period of U.S. economic contraction since the Great Depression, “The Long Boom” today seems more like an exercise in positive thinking, as some critics pointed out at the time, than a work of profound, relevant insight.

Schwartz’s message may be a warning that the automotive industry could wind up depending on Silicon Valley for some of its transport innovations, in much the same way the automotive industry relies on air bag manufacturers to provide these safety components. But motorized transport is built, not programmed.

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Connected cars & privacy: automotive industry adopts consumer privacy principles

Last week proved to be an important week for privacy and data protection in the US: while representatives of the European Commission were negotiating with US representatives on government surveillance and the extension of the US Privacy Act to EU citizens, the US Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (‘Alliance’) together with the US Association of Global Automakers (‘Association’) published their ‘Consumer Privacy Protection Principles’ (‘Principles’) on 12 November 2014.

Although smart vehicle technologies and services offer numerous benefits to owners and users, the Alliance and the Association are conscious that consumer trust is essential to the success thereof that should therefore not be overlooked. The Privacy Principles aim to provide a framework for US automobile manufacturers when processing information obtained through vehicle technologies and services, which may assist in for instance enhancing safety, diagnosing vehicle malfunctions, reducing traffic congestion, calling for emergency assistance, etc.

Each member of the Alliance and/or Association may upon its own discretion decide whether to adopt the Principles, and other companies – who are not a member – may also decide to adopt them. Examples of participating members who so far have committed themselves to respecting the Principles include the North American affiliates of inter alia BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen. The accountability principle as foreseen in the Principles requires that each participating member takes reasonable steps to ensure that it and its other entities that receive covered information adhere to the Principles.

The Principles apply to the collection, use and sharing of information obtained through vehicle technologies and services available on cars and light trucks sold or leased to individual consumers for personal use in the United States. Within the Principles, the term ‘personal data’ or ‘personal information’ appears to be deliberately avoided and instead the legally neutral term ‘covered information’ is used. The data subjects concerned are the vehicle owners or registered users.

The Principles appear to be influenced by the European data protection framework, albeit with a US flavour. Similarly as under the European Data Protection Directive, the principles do not apply to information that has been altered or combined so that the information can no longer reasonably be linked to the vehicle from which the information was retrieved, the owner of that vehicle or any other individual (data anonymisation). The key principles include:

  • Transparency – Clear, meaningful notice about the collection, use and sharing of covered information must be provided to the owner or user, for instance by including a notice in the vehicle owner’s manual, on paper or electronic registration forms and user agreements, or on in-vehicle displays. The participating automobile manufacturers commit to, at a minimum, making this information available via online web portals.
  • Choice – Under the Principles, if a participating member provides notice in consistence with the transparency principle, the acceptance and use by the owner or user will be deemed to constitute consent to the processing of the information obtained. For the use of geolocation information, biometrics and driver behaviour information, the sharing and use of such information may raise concerns in some situations and therefore participating members undertake to obtain an affirmative consent of the owner or user concerned, except in certain circumstances set forth in the Principles where an implied consent will suffice.
  • Respect for context – Participating members undertake to use and share covered information in ways that are consistent with the context in which the covered information was collected, taking into account the likely impact on the owner or user. Factors which may determine the context of the collecting include the notices offered by the participating member, the permissions obtained from and the reasonable expectations of the owner or user, etc.

The Principles contain an enlightening (non-exhaustive) list of examples to illustrate some of the reasonable and responsible ways in which covered information may be used or shared. Among typical examples which are deemed to be consistent with the context of collecting the information, are some atypical examples for which – at least from a European data protection perspective – it can be argued that these purposes may be considered as incompatible with the original purpose of the vehicle technologies and services, such as using or sharing the information as reasonably necessary to facilitate a corporate merger, acquisition or sale involving a participating member’s business, or using covered information to provide owners or users with information about goods and services that may be of interest to them.

  • Other principles included in the Principles are data minimization, data de-identification, data retention, data integrity and access (albeit a right of access for the owner or user limited to ‘personal subscription information’, rather than to all covered information held about them), and data security.

Although the scope of the Principles is limited to the automotive industry in terms of material application, and limited to consumers using the vehicles for personal use in the United States in terms of geographical application, it is expected that similar principles and guidelines will follow shortly for larger geographical and material (other sectors).

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New nanocomposites for aerospace and automotive industries

The Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV) has developed reinforced graphite nanoplatelets seeking to improve the performance of solar cell materials.

The work, done by Liliana Licea Jiménez, uses this material because it has a large power capacity. These polymer-based nanocomposites are reinforced with graphite nanoplatelets for use in industry.

Nanocomposites are formed by two or more phases, in this case by reinforced graphite nanoplatelets.

“The sectors focused on the use of these are diverse; nanoplatelets impart new properties to materials; this allows us to move into the automotive, construction, aerospace, textile and electronics sectors which are demanding and where the use of nanomaterials is an opportunity,” explains Licea Jiménez.

According to the specialist at CIMAV, the research is already applied in some concept testing for mechanical and thermal modification in the construction industry. Additionally, are already used in fenders and panels in the automotive and .

The development of nanocomposites in this research center is an opportunity for different industry sectors; graphite nanoplatelets give added value to the product, as they improve its mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. And they have an impact on the industry because the business demands are increasing and the use of nanocomposites is an opportunity to improve the product.

“Even some of the companies we have worked with mentioned in several forums that they have had a good response in the use of these nanomaterials.” She also affirms that the nanocomposites Laboratory in Monterey has achieved success, but recognizes that they need to engage with sectors such as aeronautics, among other areas.

Jimenez Licea indicates that in addition to companies in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, there are companies in other states that have shown interest in polymer ; “It is an advantage to work with research projects demanded by the industry, because they have a specific function for each company.”

This is because each nanocomposite is a material that has two or more constituents, in this case the polymer and a nano-sized reinforcing material: the nanoplatelets.

Explore further:

Improvement in polymers for aviation

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The Top Digital Marketing Trends for the Automotive Industry in 2014

The automotive industry is one that is always changing, always adapting to new ideas and concepts. Which is why it’s so important to stay on the cutting edge rather than allowing yourself to squander time and resources pursuing marketing that is no longer effective or is not as effective as you would like.

Some fantastic marketing trends developed in 2014 in order to better reach not only more people, but more of the people who are likely to purchase from you. That’s one of the reasons why a number of people in all segments of the auto industry saw their sales go through the roof and why you should start adopting these techniques right away.

1. Focus on Big Data - There are all sorts of new data streams available to website owners these days, and the sheer detail with which you can get information about who is viewing what at what times and for how long is simply astonishing.

The trick is not to get lost exploring all of the new information you have available to you and instead focus on what is going to help you turn leads into sales. Usually that means learning how to identify and target people who are ready to buy. For example, people who spend long periods of time looking at one item or keep returning to it might just need an email encouraging them to come into the showroom.

2. Search Engine Optimization - It cannot be stressed enough that proper SEO is going to do more for you than any other online marketing in the long run. That’s because doing SEO right has the added benefit of getting you to provide better, more useful, and ultimately more persuasive content to your customers.

Learn the latest specifications from the search engines and start producing content that is going to fall in line with their expectations. Make it consistent and start building a reputation for yourself as an expert in your field. People should know that if they want information about cars in your area, your website will be the place to look.

3. Remarketing - Early forms of online marketing involved placing advertisements randomly and hoping that interested parties would run into it. However, the technology has advanced to the point that it’s no longer necessary to just hope for interested parties.

Rather, you now have access to remarketing, which basically serves advertisements for your products to people who have already expressed interest in them by going to your website. Not only does this give the impression of a wide reach, but it also keeps you in the mind of people who have already shown at least mild interest in your dealership or parts store.

4. Mobile Marketing – According to recent studies, 60% of Internet traffic is now served on a mobile device. In the vast majority of cases, this is a smartphone, though tablets also play a large role in providing access to data. If you are not taking advantage of this trend, you are cutting yourself off from potentially thousands of high quality leads that will go to one of your competitors instead.

If you have a website, make sure that there is a mobile friendly version with mobile friendly chat that will be automatically served to people searching on their phones. These are people who will visit your showroom because they searched for “dealerships” while on the road looking to buy a new car. You do not want to miss out on these customers.

5. Email Marketing - This is still one of the best ways to build a brand and create a consistent customer base. Email marketing keeps you in the forefront of the thoughts of your potential customers. If you produce a useful newsletter that people actually read, you’re in an even better position to ingratiate yourself with every lead.

Make sure that whatever you’re sending, it doesn’t look like marketing material. It should have some use to the people reading it so they don’t merely unsubscribe. It should also encourage people to return to your website. When the time is right, those emails will all pay off for relatively little investment.

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Automotive industry back on track after slow August

The automotive sector saw an output increase of 15.3% y.o.y. in September, as compared to the 4% reported for August, when German carmakers Audi and Opel stopped production — the former for three weeks — and Magyar Suzuki reduced the number of shifts.

Output of the computer, electronics and optical equipment segments, accounted for another large chunk of the industrial sector, which boosted by 6.8%, and the output of food companies climbed by 5.8%. Total industrial output rose 7.6% year-on-year in September, KSH confirmed. The work-day adjusted index rose 5.2% from a year earlier.

Industrial output rose by a seasonally- and workday-adjusted 2.7% in a month-on-month comparison. Overall, domestic sales were up by 2.0% and export sales rose by 8.0%. Industrial output rose by 8.6% in January-September.



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