[News] US Allocates USD 39 Billion Subsidy to Semiconductor Industry for Establishing Plants

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has announced on February 5th that the Commerce Department would distribute substantial subsidies to chipmakers investing in the US within the next two months. The subsidy recipients are expected to include companies like TSMC and Intel.

As per a report from Reuters, Raimondo discussed the progress of subsidies under the US CHIPS and Science Act. “We’re in the process of really complicated, challenging negotiations with these companies. In the next six to eight weeks, you will see several more announcements. That’s what we’re striving for,” she stated.

Raimondo did not specify which chipmakers she is negotiating with, but she mentioned in an interview cited by Reuters,”These are highly complex, first-of-their-kind facilities. The kind of facilities that TSMC, Samsung, Intel are proposing to do in the United States — these are new-generation investments — size, scale complexity that’s never been done before in this country.”

Last month, as per Bloomberg cited industry sources in a report, plans for the United States to announce substantial chip subsidies by the end of March are revealed, targeting companies such as TSMC and Intel. The US CHIPS and Science Act reportedly includes a USD 39 billion manufacturing subsidy, providing 15% of the total cost for each independent project. Each fab can receive up to USD 3 billion in subsidies, along with loans, loan guarantees, and tax exemptions.


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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from ReutersBloomberg.


[Insights] EV Development Faces New Challenges, Porsche CFO Suggests Delay in European Ban on New Fuel Cars

Porsche’s Chief Financial Officer Lutz Meschke has stated in a media interview following the conclusion of the Macan EV unveiling on January 25, 2024, that Europe’s initial plan to ban the sale of new fuel cars by 2035 may be postponed, as reported by Bloomberg.

TrendForce’s Insights:

  • Prolonging the Battle and Gradually Narrowing the Gap with Chinese Automakers through Trade Barriers

In March 2023, the European Union passed a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars starting from 2035.

Due to opposition from Germany and Italy, after coordination, the European Union agreed not to ban models using synthetic fuels. Range anxiety of electric vehicles continue to affect the willingness of end consumers to purchase cars, becoming the biggest obstacle to the growth of electric vehicle sales.

Coupled with China’s electric vehicle market, which accounts for over 50% of global BEV sales, nurturing Chinese automakers led by BYD, who continuously lead in the technical level of the the battery system, the electric drive system, and the electronic control system compared to Europe, America, and Japan.

Not long ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that without trade barriers, Chinese automakers would destroy the vast majority of their competitors. Whether this statement is exaggerated or not, trade barriers currently serve as the most effective means for Europe and the United States to prevent the continued growth and expansion of Chinese automakers, as exemplified by the United States’ IRA legislation and the European Union’s anti-subsidy investigations.

Delaying the implementation of the ban on the sale of new fuel cars can synergize with trade barriers, allowing consumers to maintain distance from Chinese-made electric vehicles. This approach provides breathing space for European automakers and US and Japanese automakers in the fuel car market.

With the Dual Strategy of Western and Japanese Automakers, Taiwanese Manufacturers Need Greater Flexibility in Planning

Assuming the postponement of the ban on the sale of new fuel cars, automakers in Europe, the United States, and Japan may simultaneously pursue synthetic fuel technology based on traditional fuel car frameworks while continuing to develop electric vehicle technology.

However, this dual approach, which does not favor one technology over the other, is likely to affect the allocation of resources for electric vehicles. During the era of internal combustion engine vehicles, dominated by Western, Japanese automakers, and Tier 1 suppliers due to various constraints such as patents and technological barriers, it has been challenging for Taiwan to access system-level supply opportunities.

In the era of electric vehicles, Fukuta Elec & Mach Co.’s all-in-one electric drive and control system has entered Mazda’s range-extended electric vehicle supply chain, while Foxconn has launched an electric vehicle manufacturing platform to vie for opportunities in complete vehicle manufacturing from carmakers. Consequently, Taiwan is gradually moving from Tier 3 and Tier 2 to Tier 1.

If automakers in Europe, the United States, and Japan adopt a dual strategy, Taiwanese manufacturers’ opportunities in the electric vehicle field may face reduction or fiercer competition.

Apart from continuously strengthening relevant technologies in the electric vehicle domain, Taiwanese manufacturers also need to enhance the commonality and modularity of their product lines to adapt to the ever-changing industrial regulations under geopolitical shifts.

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(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Please note that this article cites information from Bloomberg.


[News] Huawei Shifts Focus, Prioritizing Production of AI Chips over Mate 60 Series

Industry sources cited by Reuters have revealed that Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, is slowing down the production of its high-end Mate 60 series smartphone due to surging demand in the AI chip market and production constraints. Instead, the company has decided to prioritize the production of AI chips from its Ascend series, diverging from the Kirin chips used in the Mate 60 series.

According to a report by Reuters on January 5th, Huawei is utilizing a plant to simultaneously produce chips from the Ascend series and the Kirin series. The current plan is to prioritize the production of Ascend chips over Kirin chips, although the exact starting date for this arrangement has not been disclosed.

On the other hand, the production volume of Huawei’s Mate 60 series, launched in August last year, has been hampered by low chip yields. Reportedly, Huawei is actively working to improve chip yields, and it is hoped that the mentioned production adjustment will be a short-term measure.

It’s worth noting that many Huawei products have recently been affected by production bottlenecks. The computation components for Huawei’s assisted driving system have encountered production issues due to shortages of components.

This has led to delays in the delivery of flagship models from Changan Automobile, Chery Automobile, and Seres. Changan Automobile and Chery Automobile have already filed complaints and are currently in negotiations with Huawei.

Reports have indicated that since 2019, the U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Huawei, citing national security concerns, thereby cutting off Huawei’s access to advanced chip manufacturing equipment and technology and weakening its smartphone division. In response, Huawei denies posing any security risks and is actively working to rebuild its business.

In addition, Bloomberg previously reported that the Chinese government has also been directly investing to assist Huawei in building its chip supply chain since 2019, creating an exclusive supply chain for Huawei in response to the tighten restrictions.

In October 2023, the U.S. further strengthened restrictions on the export of advanced chips and chip manufacturing equipment to China, building upon previous limitations. This move forced Chinese customers to turn to domestic alternatives. Huawei’s Ascend 910B chip is considered the most competitive non-NVIDIA chip available in the Chinese market.

Huawei has maintained a low profile regarding its chip manufacturing capabilities and objectives. There is limited public information about its progress or how it successfully produces advanced chips.

In August 2023, during U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visit to China, Huawei launched the Mate 60 series, garnering significant market attention.

(Photo credit: Huawei)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters.


[News] Pentagon Updates List of “Chinese Military Companies,” Including YMTC and Others

US officials have announced that the Pentagon has added over a dozen Chinese companies to a list established by the US Department of Defense. This list identifies entities accused of collaborating with the Chinese military.

According to the Pentagon’s website, the Department of Defense updated the list of “Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the United States, in accordance with Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2021.

As per a report from Reuters, the newly added companies to the list include Chinese memory manufacturer Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC), artificial intelligence (AI) firm MEGVII, radar manufacturer Hesai Technology, and technology company NetPosa.

Reportedly, being listed on this roster doesn’t automatically impose bans, but it poses significant reputational risks for the designated companies and issues stern warnings to US entities, cautioning them about the risks associated with conducting business with these enterprises.

The list could also amplify pressure from the US Treasury Department to sanction these companies.

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(Photo credit: iStock)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters.


[News] TSMC Reportedly Announcing Kumamoto Plant 2 in Japan, while U.S. Subsidies Expected by End of March

While TSMC is pushing forward with its 2nm fab in Taiwan, there is also good news about its overseas expansion. According to the Japanese newspaper “Kumanichi,” TSMC is expected to announce the construction of its Kumamoto Fab 2 in Japan on February 6, with the possibility of incorporating the 7nm process. Additionally, the United States is also expected to provide several billion dollars in subsidies to TSMC’s new fab by the end of March.

▲ TSMC’s Layout of Global Production Capacity Edited by TrendForce, January, 2024

Per the report from the ” Kumanichi,” Japan’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Tetsushi Sakamoto, who hails from Kumamoto, stated during a local meeting on January 28th that TSMC is evaluating Kumamoto Prefecture’s Kikuyo Town as the location for its second fab. The announcement of the site for Fab 2 in Kumamoto is expected to be made as early as February 6th.

The report further indicates that Fab 2 is expected to be situated next to the first fab, which was completed at the end of last year. TSMC had previously mentioned that if a second fab were to be constructed, it would be located in the vicinity of the existing facility under construction.

Regarding the rumors, the spokesperson for TSMC stated that the expansion strategy of TSMC’s global manufacturing footprint is based on considerations of customer demand, business opportunities, operational efficiency, government support, and economic costs.

Through necessary investments, TSMC continues to support customer demands and respond to the structural growth of semiconductor technology in the long term. “We are currently focusing on evaluating the possibility of setting up a second fab in Japan, and there is no further information to share at the moment.”

During the recent earnings call, Mark Liu also mentioned that the plan for TSMC’s second fab in Japan is still under evaluation. However, he hinted at the possibility of adopting the 7-nanometer process.

TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is scheduled to hold its opening ceremony on February 24th. After retiring following the shareholders’ meeting in June this year, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu, along with the designated successor and current President C.C.Wei, will lead several top executives to Japan for the event. TSMC has also invited Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to attend.

The decision for TSMC to establish a plant in Kumamoto, Japan, was announced in October 2021, and construction began in 2022. In comparison to TSMC’s announcement of a plant in the United States in 2020, which faced delays and is set to commence production in 2025, the Japanese plant has advanced more swiftly.

This aligns with TSMC founder Morris Chang’s statement last year that Japan is considered an ideal location for establishing a semiconductor supply chain.

Analyst Joanne Chiao from TrendForce previously pointed out that Japan’s expertise in materials and machinery is one of the factors attracting TSMC’s expansion. Japan stands to benefit from TSMC’s establishment as the pace of creating a local semiconductor ecosystem by Japanese government surpasses that of the U.S. government.

On the other hand, despite TSMC delaying the production at its new US plant, according to Bloomberg, the United States plans to announce substantial chip subsidies by the end of March. The aim is to pave the way for chip manufacturers like TSMC and Intel by providing them with billions of dollars to accelerate the expansion of domestic chip production.

These subsidies are a core component of the US 2022 “CHIPS and Science Act,” which allocates a budget of USD 39 billion to directly subsidize and revitalize American manufacturing.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from Kumanichi and Bloomberg.

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