Auto suppliers jockey for fast-growing sensor market

“If you go into an entry-class car, you probably end up with 20 to 50 sensors that use semiconductors,” Findeis said. “If you go to a high-end car, you easily end up with 100.”

This bonanza-in-progress is not lost on the world’s largest auto parts companies. Tier 1 titans such as Bosch, Continental, Valeo and ZF Friedrichshafen view electronic sensors as no less lucrative a car part than light dimmers, transmission gears or parking brakes.

“We expect sensors to become more and more relevant in all areas of the vehicle,” said Thomas Irawan, senior vice president of the driver assistance systems business unit at Bosch. “Specifically in the ADAS area, we have been seeing increasing installation rates for years.”

Bosch has sold more than 700 million sensors for driver-assistance systems in recent years, Irawan said, and it has doubled its sales in the area in the past three years, although he would not provide figures.

A recent study by Roland Berger found the overall bill for the electronics in a midsize premium car with an internal combustion engine was $3,185 in 2019. By 2025, that cost will rise to $7,030 for a comparable battery-electric car.

A significant chunk of that increase — about $413 per vehicle — will be just for the sensors to facilitate the radar, lidar and camera components to support driving assistance, the consultancy said.

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