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Yole trims automotive lidar expectations as prices drop

18 Jun 2024

Analyst firm says shipments are ramping up but average selling prices are declining rapidly.

The automotive lidar sector is now expected to reach a value of just over $3.6 billion by 2029, growing at a compound annual rate of nearly 40 per cent from the 2023 total of $538 million.

That’s according to lidar industry analysts at Yole Intelligence, who have just updated their annual forecast of the emerging market for the sensors, which are used to enhance vehicle safety.

Those figures indicate a decrease from last year’s outlook, which had projected 55 per cent growth and a market set to be worth around $4.5 billion by 2028.

The reason for the tempered expectations is not lower shipments, says Yole, but a faster-than-expected decline in average selling prices (ASPs) for the technology as production ramps up - especially in China.

Yole’s latest figures also suggest that the market jumped in value by nearly 80 per cent from 2022 to 2023.

Market bifurcates
The Paris-based analyst firm breaks the market down into two segments currently, namely passenger and light vehicles - which are still driven by humans and feature lidar in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) - and automated robotaxis.

“In 2022, the lidar market for passenger cars was slightly larger than the market for robotaxis,” it reported. “There was clear growth in the passenger car segment in 2023 to $414 million, while the robotaxi segment stood at $124 million.

“This gap is set to grow over the coming years, with the passenger segment reaching $3 billion [by 2029], compared with $638 million for the robotaxi segment.”

Senior Yole analysts Pierrick Boulay and Benjamin Pussat, who penned the latest report, say that as a result of the skew towards passenger vehicles, the leading players in that market are also the global market leaders.

China’s Hesai and RoboSense each enjoy strong involvement in both markets, while the French auto parts firm Valeo has so far emerged as the highest-ranked non-Chinese provider of automotive lidar, thanks in part to its recent “Scala 3” lidar product.

Hesai’s lead cut
Yole’s figures suggest that Hesai remains the market leader for automotive lidar, although its share of 37 per cent is down from 46 per cent last year.

RoboSense has eaten into that market share, more than doubling its presence and accounting for 21 per cent. Seyond, another Chinese firm that was previously called Innovusion, is still ranked third after increasing its share to 19 per cent, with Valeo coming next on 10 per cent.

Yole points out that in 2023 more lidar-equipped cars were released than in the entire previous five years, highlighting a rapid acceleration in the application of the technology.

Since 2018, Yole says it has tracked more than 200 design wins - each representing a car model - around the world.

And its analyst team has now classified the different car models into six defined groups labeled “A” to “F”.

“The market continues to evolve from the first lidar car released in the F segment, which represents luxury vehicles such as certain Audi models,” they explained. “Innovation is typically implemented into cars in the E segment and F segments and then deployed into lower-end cars.

“As a result, the global D and E segments have become the sweet spots to integrate lidar, and the bulk of the volume is in the C and D segments, where models have lower price points between $30,000 and $50,000, and are sold in much larger volumes than F segment models.

“New Chinese car models were released in the E and D segments in 2022, and the first car in the SUV-C segment was released in 2023. Yole expects many more car models to be released in the D segment in 2024, and some in the C segment.”

Teardowns available
The analyst team has also completed a series of “teardown” reports, showing which components are being used inside the lidar systems sold by the leading vendors.

For example, Valeo’s “Scala 2” product features a 905 nm-emitting infrared laser diode from Excelitas alongside an avalanche photodetector array and transimpedance amplifier from Hamamatsu Photonics.

While most lidars are still placed either into the grille or on the roof of the vehicle, recent developments by Hesai and Marelli indicate that a new position behind the windshield will appear in the next two years.

“The use case is still to be defined for this new location,” Yole added. “The mounting location of the sensors is crucial, as they need to have unobstructed lines of sight [for] long distances from the vehicle, and there is a clear push to reduce the size of devices.”

Another area of technological evolution will be the emergence of frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar, as is being developed by teams at Aeva, SiLC Technologies, Scantinel Photonics, and others.

Embedded in silicon-based photonic integrated circuits (PICs), the technology is still relatively new and is first appearing in industrial vision systems where the current higher cost of FMCW can be justified.

Boulay said: “Most of the companies developing FMCW lidar are targeting niche industrial and/or robotic vehicle applications initially, as volumes are low, and ASPs are less of an issue for customers.

“This allows them to generate cash and at the same time to improve their knowledge and experience. Once they have improved the technology, they can target the automotive market.

“However, the path from industrial to automotive can be quite long and difficult as requirements and performance levels are quite different. We do not expect [FMCW] to enter the [automotive] market before 2028.”

• For more details about Yole’s updated market report, entitled “LiDAR for Automotive 2024”, click here. For teardowns of lidars from the likes of Hesai, Valeo, RoboSense, and Seyond, click here.

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