Smartphones, automobiles supply likely to improve from second quarter of 2022

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Availability of smartphones and automobiles are likely to improve as chip designers expect semiconductor supply constraints to ease from the second quarter of 2022.

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While availability of semiconductors for smartphones is expected to balance out over the next couple of months, those used in vehicles will see an increase in supplies toward the end of the year.

“The pandemic showed us how important it is to remain connected in a hybrid environment, with the same efficiency as in an office,” Rajen Vagadia, VP and President, Qualcomm India and SAARC, told ET. “This triggered demand for better cameras, audios, phones, laptops. The supply chain had to pivot.”

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With chip makers working on tailoring production to demand, optimising capacity utilisation and investing in expanding operations, availability of semiconductors is now expected to improve – both for consumer electronics and automobile manufacturers. In FY22, however, passenger vehicles makers in the country could lose about 500,000 units in sales on chip shortage, ratings agency ICRA said recently.

That translates into about Rs 1,800-2,000 crore in lost sales opportunity.

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Easing of supply constraints will offer respite to automakers at a time when India is readying to hold auctions for 5G spectrum and rollout of the technology in FY23.

“Once 4G came in and made audio streaming possible, vehicles started mimicking phones. Automakers started packing in more features in cars, increasing the number of chips in vehicles,” said Vagadia. “With 5G, the in-vehicle experience will improve even more significantly, necessitating the use of a larger number of chips.”

There will be a spike in the number of connected vehicles on Indian roads after 5G rollout, he said.

Industry estimates demand for semiconductor chips to expand four-fold to $100 billion by 2025, with the advent of IoT (Internet of Things) and 5G technology in India.

Vagadia said the Rs 76,000 crore-Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for manufacturing semiconductors and display boards announced by the government is a step in the right direction and should enable the country to become a part of the global value-chain.

Overall, Vagadia said Qualcomm Technologies is extremely “upbeat” on growth prospects in the country. In addition to telecom, the automotive space, too, has been registering an uptick the past one year. The vertical is expected to contribute a larger share in revenues.

Qualcomm has about 12,000 employees in India – its largest set-up outside of San Diego, California. The company is working on intelligent cockpit solutions/digital chassis, which automakers can leverage to provide customized experiences to car buyers. It currently provides automotive technologies to Mahindra for XUV700 and Ola Electric.

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