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Weekly Market News No. 5 May 2023

Published: 5.29.2023

Hyundai Motor Group, LG Energy to Build $4.4 billion EV Battery Plant in US

Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solution (LGES) are teaming up to build an electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing plant in Bryan County, Georgia. The facility, expected to commence construction in the second half of 2023, will have a production capacity of 30 gigawatt-hours (GWh), enabling the production of 300,000 EVs annually. This partnership aims to drive the EV transition in America, combining the strengths of two leaders in the automotive and battery industries. Battery production is projected to commence by the end of 2025 at the earliest.

Ford and Tesla Ally to End the EV Plug War

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Ford CEO Jim Farley have struck a deal that will benefit both Tesla and Ford electric vehicle (EV) buyers. Under the agreement, Ford EV owners will have access to high-speed charging at any of Tesla's 12,000 Supercharger stations, addressing frustrations around the reliability and availability of non-Tesla public fast-charging infrastructure.

Currently, the lack of compatibility between charging plugs used by different automakers and charging stations presents a challenge for EV charging infrastructure. Tesla and Ford aim to address this issue by encouraging other automakers and charging network operators to adopt the Tesla/NACS charging standard. This would put an end to the confusion and fragmentation caused by incompatible plug systems, promoting wider acceptance of EVs.

Tesla has been actively campaigning for its plug to become the standard in North America. In support of this goal, Ford plans to adopt Tesla's charging plug hardware for its next generation of EVs scheduled for release in 2025. By adopting Tesla's plug standard, Ford significantly expands the number of fast-chargers available to owners of Ford Mach-E, F-150 Lightnings, and future Ford EVs.

By joining the Tesla charging ecosystem, Ford aims to conserve resources that will be essential in battling against Tesla's Cybertruck, General Motors' electric Silverado, and Stellantis' electric Ram. Ford believes aligning with Tesla's charging standard will enhance its position in the market.

This partnership between Tesla and Ford not only benefits EV owners in terms of charging convenience but also marks a step towards standardization in the EV charging infrastructure, facilitating the wider adoption of electric vehicles.

Infineon acquires Tiny Machine Learning leader Imagimob to strengthen its offering in embedded AI solutions

Infineon Technologies AG, a technology company specializing in semiconductors and system solutions, has acquired Imagimob AB, a startup based in Stockholm that offers Machine Learning (ML) solutions for edge devices. This partnership was established to enhance Infineon's position in the ML market and expand its AI offerings.

With Machine learning dominating the field of technology, the partnership allows Infineon to extend its hardware/software ecosystem and provide a comprehensive ML solution. By combining their expertise and leveraging the full range of sensors, the partnership aims to offer a unified user experience across products. This collaboration enables existing customers of both companies to benefit from a seamless integration of ML capabilities, allowing for the rapid deployment of robust solutions.

Japan, U.S. industry chiefs agree to boost semiconductor cooperation

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and U.S. commerce secretary Gina Raimondo have reached an agreement to bolster cooperation in the development of next-generation semiconductors. In a meeting held in Detroit, the officials underscored the necessity of reinforcing global supply chains by partnering with other countries and engaging in multilateral initiatives such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

A joint statement issued by Japan's minister of economy, trade, and industry, together with the U.S. commerce secretary, outlined their intention to promote collaboration between semiconductor research centers in both countries. The focus of this collaboration extends beyond semiconductors and encompasses areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, bio-related technologies, and quantum technologies.

The agreement marks a significant step in strengthening the technological alliance between Japan and the United States. By joining forces in the semiconductor industry, the two nations aim to pave the way for advancements in chip technology while also addressing the challenges posed by supply chain vulnerabilities. The creation of a roadmap for technological development and the cultivation of skilled human resources in the field of semiconductors are among the key objectives of this partnership.

Backend Houses Optimistic about AI Chip Demands

Nvidia's dominance in the AI chip market, fueled by the hype around ChatGPT, has led to robust demand for its products. The US chip vendor has reported impressive revenue growth for the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 and anticipates even stronger growth in the second quarter, defying the overall pessimistic outlook for the semiconductor industry.

This surge in demand for Nvidia's AI chips has instilled confidence among its backend suppliers, particularly in Taiwan. Industry sources reveal that the company's orders for A100/H100 chips are benefiting not only TSMC's advanced chip manufacturing and packaging businesses but also driving demand for probe cards and sockets. Test interface suppliers like WinWay Technology and CHPT are poised to reap the rewards.

Furthermore, high-performance computing (HPC) chips are also generating substantial demand for high-end probe cards and sockets, where WinWay, CHPT, and MPI have a strong presence. Test interface sector insiders note that business is bottoming out in the second quarter of 2023, with expectations of "explosive" growth in 2024.