Automotive and industrial IGBT supply remains tight

April 21, 2023

Under the cyclical slowdown, IGBT is one of the few semiconductor segments that still maintains high prices and is in short supply.

In the first quarter of this year, according to the supply data provided by Future Electronics, Fairchild, Infineon, IXYS, Microsemi, and STMicroelectronics, the shortest lead time among the five IGBT suppliers was 39 weeks, while the longest was 54 weeks.

Although it has been three or four quarters since the lead time for IGBT has been extended. In the second quarter of last year, none of the five companies has yet shortened it, and the price of their products remains high.

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The situation is related to the unrecovered supply chain, which have been disrupting by the epidemic.

The global demand for IGBT continues to grow. However, the disruption caused by the epidemic and the unstable supply of raw materials has put pressure on the IGBT supply chain in recent years.

The top five manufacturers occupy at least 60% of the global IGBT market shares. In 2020, Infineon ranked first with 29.3% market shares. Fuji Electric, Mitsubishi, Onsemi, and Toshiba stay at the second through fifth positions.

NEWS-20230421-2.pngImage source: Infineon

The concentration of IGBT market shares among the few suppliers result in the significant capital investment needed to establish design and manufacturing facilities, the high technological requirements, and the challenges about introducing products to the market.

Apart from the capital investment, the design and optimization of parameters are complex. Manufacturing an IGBT module with high reliability, stability, and consistency requires extensive industry knowledge and experience.

When introducing new products to customers, they feel difficult because customers tend to be conservative and cautious when choosing IGBT. Once they have made a selection, their willingness to make changes or replacements is typically low.

Despite high demand and limited supply, new enterprises face challenges when entering the market due to these factors. As a result, the primary burden of meeting this demand falls on major existing suppliers.

Although some IGBT suppliers have expanded their investment in production capacity, they could not keep up with the rapidly growing market demand due to the complexity of the IGBT manufacturing process.

According to Omdia, the global IGBT market has surpassed US$6.6 billion and is still growing.

The primary application of IGBTs is in industrial control. Its applications have expanded to include new energy and electric vehicles, which are experiencing a growing demand.

According to data from Omdia, the industrial control sector was the largest application field for IGBT, accounting for 33.5% of the global IGBT module market in 2020. Meanwhile, new energy vehicles accounted for 14.2%. In the future, it  forecasted that the electrification and intelligence of automobiles havs been driving rapid growth in the use of IGBT, making it the fastest-growing subdivision in the field.

Customers can‘t find IGBTs in stock due to a supply-demand imbalance caused by limited supply, and high demand from popular fields such as solar inverters and electric vehicles.

In conclusion, the supply of IGBT is affected by multiple factors, including market demand, capacity expansion, and wafer foundry. Although the overall tight situation has eased, building a long-term and stable supply chain system still requires the efforts of suppliers, channels, and manufacturers.

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