Japan’s Fuji Electric gives $360m boost to power chip business
Fuji Electric looks to ramp up production of power chips partly in response to strong demand for electric vehicles. © Reuters
KONATSU OCHI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan
TOKYO — Japan’s Fuji Electric will invest an extra 40 billion yen ($365 million) to expand production of power semiconductors, which are used to manage power flows in air conditioners, electric autos and more.
The decision is a response to “growing demand from renewable energy” applications, such as electric vehicles and solar, said President Michihiro Kitazawa.
The 40 billion yen is on top of the 120 billion yen Fuji Electric had earmarked for the four years through fiscal 2022, which has already been moved up from the original time frame of fiscal 2023 to meet unexpectedly strong demand.
About 25 billion yen of the additional capital will go toward starting production of 8-inch silicon wafers at the company’s Malaysian plant, which will be more efficient to manufacture than the 6-inch wafers previously made there. Fuji Electric has not provided details about capacity.
The company plans to begin producing power semiconductors in Malaysia around fiscal 2023, using clean rooms and other facilities freed up after hard disk media production was halted there last month.
The remaining 15 billion yen will be used for expansion elsewhere, including at the company’s Matsumoto plant in Japan.
Sales in the field are expected to overshoot the company’s medium-term targets. Fuji Electric sees sales in the segment that includes power semiconductors growing 53% from fiscal 2018 to 210 billion yen in fiscal 2023, the final year of its five-year plan.
The existing plan aims for sales of 200 billion yen in that segment, with 25 billion yen coming from the magnetic disk business from which the company has withdrawn.
Kitazawa has indicated that further semiconductor-related investment beyond fiscal 2023 will be “based on demand,” adding that the company is considering spending another 50 billion yen or so.
Research firm Fuji Keizai projects the global market for power semiconductors will expand 44% over the decade through 2030 to 4.05 trillion yen, as electric vehicles and fifth-generation wireless technology enter broader use.
Infineon Technologies led the market last year with a 27.1% share, followed by Onsemi at 9.7% and Mitsubishi Electric at 8.5%, according to British analytics firm Omdia. Fuji Electric ranked alongside Switzerland-based STMicroelectronics at 6.5%.