Bosch building $1.1B self-driving, smart-city chip plant, its biggest investment ever

Tier one auto industry supplier Bosch is investing heavily in where the market is headed, with a newly-announced $1.1 billion facility that will produce semiconductors used in self-driving cars, smart homes and smart-city infrastructure. Bloomberg reports that this is the biggest single investment in the component giant's history.

The new Dresden-based chip plant is set to start producing silicon commercially in 2021.

The greatly expanded chip manufacturing capacity that this will afford Bosch is seen by the company as a key ingredient in helping it stay in its key supply position as automakers continue to shift focus to connected services and mobility platforms. Bosch is no novice when it comes to chipmaking; the company has supplied chips for cars, and for more recent devices like smartphones, for over 40 years according to Bloomberg.

The new plant will also supply chips that provide more traditional functionality to cars, including those that trigger airbag deployment and control instrument-panel readings, as well as in-car cellular connectivity.

Intel is also attempting to position itself as a key chip supplier in the world of autonomous vehicles, as is Qualcomm (aided by its purchase of NXP, though that's currently being investigated by the EU prior to finalization). Bosch has been operating in this field for a long time, but the autonomous market is different, so it'll be very interesting to see whether those coming from the computing side or those on the automotive end of the spectrum end up claiming a more dominant position in the market.

Written by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch.

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