Infineon Sees Joysticks Instead of Steering Wheels in Electric Cars

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German chipmaker Infineon Technologies (IFNNY) is mulling the idea of an electric car that's steered with a joystick, Bloomberg reported.

Driving with a joystick would eliminate the mechanical connection with the wheel; instead, there would be more electronic parts, Jochen Hanebeck, head of Europe's second-largest chipmaker's automotive unit told Bloomberg. This could help car companies slash costs as they replace expensive mechanical parts with cheaper electronic ones.

The automotive chip market is set to grow 12% annually, according to researcher iSuppli. Infineon expects chip content in each car to rise to $333 in 2016 from $251 in 2008, Bloomberg reports. In electric and hybrid cars, the chip value is expected to about double by 2016, Hanebeck said.

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Infineon's auto unit accounted for 38% of its sales from continuing operations in the year ended Sept. 30. Sales from the business rose 51% to €1.26 billion ($1.32 billion), led by safety and power chips, including those that manage airbags, power steering, tire-pressure monitoring, gasoline engines and transmissions.

The automotive unit, whose top competitor is Renesas Electronics, has 900 products that each generates €100,000 in revenue a year. Infineon expects revenue at the unit to expand 10%. Its biggest growth will come from its lead in chips for fully electric and hybrid cars, Hanebeck said.

Infineon is seeing significant growth from other green initiatives, too, as it supplies chips for wind turbines. The company is also growing in Asia, where its micro-controllers power e-bikes, and its chips can be found in rice cookers, table-top cooking plates and hot pots.

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