MUNICH - Freescale Semiconductor is not about to relinquish its No. 1 ranking in automotive semiconductors without a fight.
But the US supplier is not yet looking over its shoulder, despite aggressive talk from its chief competitor, Infineon Technologies of Germany.
Infineon says that it wants to be the top semiconductor supplier to the auto industry.
Peter Bauer, head of Infineon's Automotive, Industrial and Multimarket Business Group, told Automobilwoche, Automotive News Europe's sister publication, that Infineon aims to overtake its rival.
"That is indeed our goal," Bauer said. "Over the last 10 years, we have boosted our revenues in the auto industry by an average of 20 percent a year."
Freescale of Austin, Texas, was created in 2004 when Motorola spun off its semiconductor products sector. It is the leading semiconductor supplier with a 12 percent share of the global automotive semiconductor business, said Stephan Lehmann, Freescale's global automotive strategic marketing manager. Infineon is No. 2 with a 9 percent automotive market share.
Infineon is a serious competitor, adds Lehmann.
"But, to be honest, we hope that in 10 years Infineon will still be saying that they are fighting to overtake us," Lehmann said, during an interview at the Freescale Technology Forum in Munich earlier this month.
"They can plan to be No. 1 as long as they want to," said Ross McOuat, Freescale's automotive marketing director of microcontrollers at the same event. Microcontrollers are tiny computers on a single silicon chip.
"They have a couple of market spaces where they have some specific capabilities, so we have a respect for them," McOuat said. "But I relish a fight. It's good to be No.1, but it's tough."
Both Lehmann and McOuat are based in Munich at Freescale Halbleiter Deutschland. Freescale's European headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland.
Freescale, which became a publicly traded company in July 2004 after more than 50 years as part of Motorola, had sales of $5.7 billion (E4.7 billion) during 2004.
Its semiconductors can be found in a variety of automotive applications, including airbag systems, engine management, antilock brakes and traction and stability control systems.
So how will Infineon overtake Freescale in the automotive market? With strong system expertise, a broad product line and a zero-defect approach, Infineon's Bauer said.
"With our customers, we always try to bring our system approach into play," Bauer said. "That means we want to bring them a solution made up of sensors, microcontrollers and actuators with the best possible system coordination."