Manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) is using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) technology to produce its electronic control units (ECUs), as part of its foray into electric vehicle development.
In an online Next Forum held by the Hon Hai Research Institute (鴻海研究院) and industry group SEMI on Thursday, Chen Wei-ming (陳偉銘), head of Hon Hai’s semiconductor business group, said the company was using TSMC’s 40-nanometer process for ECU production.
Hon Hai is keen to produce ECUs, which are used to control one or more functions in a vehicle, tailored for its customers, Chen said.
Although Taiwanese firms command the highest market share of the upstream pure wafer foundry business, as well as the downstream integrated circuit packaging and testing services sector of the semiconductor industry, the automotive electronics segment represents a small portion of their sales, he said.
Chips used in automotive electronics make up only 3.3 percent of total sales for TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, he said.
Hon Hai, known internationally as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), is using TSMC’s technology in its ECU production platform to make lithium battery management chips and body control modules, Chen said.
Over the past few years, Hon Hai, a major supplier to Apple Inc, has made electric vehicles a central component of its efforts to expand beyond contract manufacturing, which it refers to as the “3 plus 3” initiative.
The name refers to three emerging industries — electric vehicles, robots and digital healthcare — that are being developed through artificial intelligence, semiconductors and communication technologies.
Chen said that semiconductors used in vehicle production previously made up no more than 1 percent of total production costs for automakers, but now contribute about US$489 to the production cost of one vehicle on average.
By 2025, that cost could rise to US$716, which presents a tremendous business opportunity for the semiconductor industry, he said.
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