Ploss describes the semiconductor manufacturer’s prospects for the future as cautious optimism. In past year, the corona crisis caused blood-red figures to appear, especially in Infineon’s most important sales market, the automotive industry – the industry’s unit sales plummeted by 20 percent worldwide. If there is cause for optimism nevertheless, it is for several reasons: Electric mobility has recently gained considerable momentum in Europe, and even more so in China. The climate debate has contributed to this, not least. “The OEMs must meet ambitious CO2 targets,” Ploss said at a virtual press conference. The vehicle for achieving these targets is electric mobility, because electric cars are known to produce no local emissions and thus help OEMs to reduce their fleet consumption. In addition, electric cars are gradually reaching customers – falling prices, increasing ranges and better charging networks are gradually making electric cars competitive over internal combustion engines from a practical point of view.
The growing popularity of electric cars is playing into Infineon’s hands in two ways. Because serial production is gaining momentum among car manufacturers. Moreover, electric vehicles typically contain more, and more expensive semiconductor products than conventional cars, especially in the powertrain with its power modules and electronic controls. “The value of the semiconductor components in electric cars is about 80% higher than that of those with internal combustion engine,” said Ploss.
The Infineon boss also gave some examples of how the turnaround in traffic is reflected in the company’s orders. For example, the new ID.3 from Volkswagen, whose series production has just started, contains more than 50 semiconductor components from Infineon – mainly microcontrollers, sensors and power transistors. Infineon has also just won a design-in with an unnamed manufacturer of electric vehicles, with an order value in the mid three-digit million euro range. And the technical development continues at a rapid pace. New semiconductor materials such as SiC and GaN are helping to further increase the energy efficiency of drives. “Development with innovative semiconductors leads to longer range, shorter charging times and lower battery costs,” Ploss described the scenario.
Of course, the corona crisis continues to hang over the industry like a sword of Damocles – not only over the car industry, but over more or less all industry branches. While growth drivers can be identified in many areas, a “broad upswing is not in sight. There is still a long way to recovery, said Ploss.
Incidentally, this applies not only to the effects of the pandemic, but also to the general international weather situation. Although the election of Biden as US president has cleared some dark clouds, the USA and China continue to dominate the world market in terms of digitalisation – and the economic conflict between the West and China is having a negative impact on Infineon and, according to Ploss, on Europe as a whole. In this way, the company boss shows where the real challenge for the future lies. “Our continent must find a way to make the digital change on its own,” said Ploss. “To do so, Europe must do much more than it has done so far.”