Qualcomm, the world’s leading supplier of semiconductors in the mobile phone, has been expanding its portfolio in automotive with chips that power the infotainment system, dashboard/cockpits, telematics and platforms for ADAS/Connected technology. While the company is not new to the automotive sector and has been supplying tech for nearly two decades, the industry’s acceleration of its move from providing the mechanical devices of yesteryear to the future’s ‘computers on wheels’ has led to more value-creating activities and opportunities for Qualcomm in the automotive sector.
In a recent development, the company announced that it will supply computing chips for a digital dashboard in a new Renault electric vehicle – the Mégane E-TECH Electric, an important development that will create better brand visibility for Qualcomm in the high growth electric vehicle (EV) market. Earlier this year, the company extended its partnership with General Motors with regards to digital cockpits, next-gen telematics and ADAS development. The OEM would deploy Qualcomm’s 3rd generation Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms in its upcoming vehicles.
The company – better known for its cockpit, infotainment and telematics products in the auto business – aims to deepen its presence in future mobility solutions that revolve around connected, electric and autonomous tech. With its new broad automotive strategy ‘Automotive Redefined’ announced earlier this year, the company aims to intensify product development in the cockpit, connected, autonomous, infotainment, electric charging infrastructure and other subsystems in automotive. Qualcomm presently supplies infotainment and digital cockpits products to 19 automakers globally and has a hefty order pipeline – nearly US$10 billion. Further strategic focus on the automotive sector is set to offer competitive benefits and level up Qualcomm in the automotive value chain.
At a time when most semiconductor manufacturers diverted supply to other industries, given the dwindled manufacturing and supply of vehicles due to COVID-19, it is required that semiconductor companies – currently largely catering to other industries – develop their capabilities in automotive and tap the existing opportunities in the market. Qualcomm is a supplier to both automakers and Tier 1 component makers. While it aims to aggressively expand into the sector, it’s clear on its priorities and doesn’t want to level up as a Tier 1 in the supply chain, rather it wants to be what Android is to smartphones, i.e. an open platform provider, with qualified software partners, that can serve a large range of applications rather than developing its own software for each system.
Growing cellular connectivity in cars is set to offer a significant boost to Qualcomm’s auto business. Further, its expansion of the automotive business and the resultant increase in the supply of semiconductors would support the industry which has been witnessing the aftermath of chip shortages as production loss.