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EV penetration raises automotive PCB production value against the trend

According to TrendForce’s “Global Automotive PCB Market Outlook” research, since PCBs account for more than half of consumer electronics applications, economic headwinds have a greater impact on the PCB industry than other components when the end market demand has not yet recovered significantly. Obviously, it is estimated that the global PCB output value will be approximately 79 billion USD in 2023, a decline of 5.2% compared to 2022.

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Among them, the automotive PCB market is growing against the trend, mainly due to the continuous increase in the penetration rate of global electric vehicles and automotive electronics. In 2023, the output value is expected to increase by 14% annually, reaching 10.5 billion USD. By 2026, the output value of automotive PCB is expected to grow to 14.5 billion USD, accounting for 15% of the overall PCB output value, and the CAGR of automotive PCB output value will be about 12% from 2022 to 2026.

Something about automotive circuit

What factors stimulate the increase of automotive PCB demands?

According to TrendForce, the growth of automotive PCB output value is mainly due to the increase in the penetration rate of electric vehicles. The average PCB value per vehicle of pure electric vehicles (BEV) is about 5 to 6 times that of traditional fuel vehicles.

Among them, the PCB with the highest value in the vehicle is the electronic control system, which accounts for about half of the PCB of the vehicle. And the BMS (Battery Management System) in the electronic control system is currently mainly connected by wire harnesses. Under the trend of lightweight electric vehicles, FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit) will be gradually adopted in the future, which will further increase the PCB value content of the electronic control system.

As the level and penetration rate of autonomous driving continue to increase, the average number of electronic products such as cameras and radars per vehicle will continue to increase. Currently, automotive PCBs are mainly 4-8-layer boards, while self-driving systems mostly use HDI boards (High Density Interconnect) with higher unit prices.

HDI boards price is about three times that of 4-8 layer boards. The price of HDI used in LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging, LiDAR) equipped with L3 and above self-driving systems can reach tens of dollars. And it will also be the main source of future automotive PCB output value increase.

In terms of types, it is estimated that the 4-8 layer boards mainly used in automotive PCBs will account for about 40% of the overall automotive PCBs in 2023, and will drop to 32% by 2026. The proportion of HDI boards with higher unit prices will increase from 15% rose to 20%; FPC boards rose from 17% to 20%, thick copper boards and radio frequency boards rose from 8% and 8.8% to 9.5% and 10.8% respectively, single-layer panels with lower unit prices dropped from 11.2% to 7.7%.

The development opportunities of electronic vehicles

From the perspective of development trends, automotive PCBs are also undergoing continuous upgrades and iterations under the two pillars of electrification and intelligence.

On the one hand, with the increase in the amount of electronic components, PCB is developing in the direction of high integration, high density and multi-layer. In addition, the popularity of 800V high-voltage platforms also puts forward higher requirements for PCB withstand voltage.

Combined with TrendForce’s report, the average value of PCBs in pure electric vehicles is about 5 to 6 times that of traditional fuel vehicles. Among them, the electronic control system has the highest PCB value in the vehicle, accounting for about half of the PCB value of the entire vehicle.

Under the trend of lightweight, electric vehicles gradually adopt flexible circuit boards (FPC), which will further increase the value of PCB in electronic control systems. On the other hand, vehicle intelligence and intelligent driving have put forward higher requirements on the transmission rate. In addition to upgrading the electronic and electrical architecture, it also broadens the use of high-frequency and high-speed PCBs.

For example, millimeter wave radar requires high frequency PCB; Lidar, ECU, and autonomous driving systems have greater demand for higher-end HDI due to more refined lines.  

It is understood that the current automotive PCBs are mainly 4-8 layer boards, while the price of HDI boards is about three times that of the former.

Conclusion

What’s more worth mentioning is that when PCBs are also developing in the direction of networking and intelligence, domestic PCB manufacturers may be expected to take advantage of this corner to overtake.

At present, many China PCB manufacturers such as Shiyun Circuit, Shanghai Electric Power Co., Ltd., Dongshan Precision, and Shenghong Technology have entered the supply chain of new energy vehicle companies such as Tesla or BYD. It is foreseeable that when China’s automotive brands really stand in the center of the global stage, it will also be the moment when China’s PCB brands go global.

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