In the trend of making chips in the home appliance industry, Gree is the most determined. In 2017, Gree did not pay dividends. Dong Mingzhu, chairman of Gree Electric Appliances, said that the chip must be done. Subsequently, Gree founder Zhu Jianghong reminded: “Gree is a high-end chip, I don’t have much confidence”.
Li Dongsheng, chairman of TCL Group, recently told the author in an interview: “Someone invested 50 billion yuan to make chips. If it is really wafer, 50 billion yuan is not enough. The risk of home appliance companies jumping into unfamiliar areas is high, and the gap between domestic and foreign chips is large, and it is 20 to 30 years behind. ”
In fact, Dong Mingzhu is not so irrational. Gree Electric (000651.SZ) announced on the evening of July 4 that it has invested about 400 million to 500 million yuan to further increase its shareholding in the upstream compressor company Highly to 10%. This means that in 2017, Gree does not pay dividends. About 50 billion yuan of cash is not reserved for chips, but covers a number of areas of Gree expansion.
Dong Mingzhu revealed at the shareholders' meeting on June 25 that he was still busy with the chip the day before. Gree does the specific implementation of the chip, what form to take, but also the company's board of directors to discuss the decision. Strive for Gree air-conditioning to use its own chips next year.
As the world's largest home air-conditioning company, it has always been based on the core technology of Gree, want to break the dependence of air-conditioning chip import, determined to do the chip is understandable, and even can say that courage is commendable, but "do not be too hasty".
First of all, Gree has started in the field of chips, and low-end chip replacement is not difficult. Zhang Bang, an analyst with Jibang Consulting, pointed out that Gree can already package IGBT (power semiconductor device) itself as an IPM (power module) that must be used in inverter air conditioners. The main chip of air conditioner internal machine can also be designed independently. Research more core devices, commercial mode will be self-use. Even if the cost of the own chip is slightly higher than the outsourcing, Gree will ship 60 million air conditioners a year, and the cost is easy to self-digest.
In the latest industrial structure of Gree displayed by Dong Mingzhu, chips and IoT devices, mobile phones and big data are all placed in the communication equipment company sector. It can be seen that she hopes to be the "brain" chip in the ecology of Gree smart home in the future. You have to have control. Gree Electric has established the Communication Technology Research Institute in November 2015. Therefore, Gree does not plan, but the facts.
Second, there are different levels of chips, and high-end chip replacement for air conditioners is not possible in the short term. Dong Mingzhu revealed that a small number of chips in an air conditioner, Gree will spend about 4 billion yuan a year on the chip, and most of these chips still rely on imports. “We have developed a chip, and our own design is small and effective”, but she also admitted that Gree’s current progress in chip design is still flawless.
A senior expert in the home appliance industry believes that air-conditioning chips are divided into different grades. The air conditioner remote control chip is a low-end chip. The price is within a few yuan. Localization is not a problem. However, the variable frequency drive chip and the host chip are high-end chips, a piece of about 15 yuan, which requires long-term technology and talent accumulation, not a breakthrough in one or two years. Like Gree, Texas Instruments' variable frequency drive chip is used.
China is the world's largest air-conditioning production base, accounting for about 60% of global air-conditioning capacity. However, at present, most of the inverter drive chips and host chips of China's air conditioners rely on imports. The main suppliers include Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, Renesas Japan, and Hanzhi, Taiwan. The IC industry needs a lot of talents and technology accumulation. Once the supply exceeds demand, it will lose money. Renesas has lost money for many years and is ultimately controlled by the Japanese government. The rise of smart home and electric vehicle industry in the past two years has stimulated the growth of demand for chips, but it is not appropriate to enter.
Third, the chip industry chain is very long, Gree can cut through the chip design, step by step, long water flow, and finally one day can be worn by water. However, if you are too eager, you will encounter tremendous pressure from the capital market.
The chip industry is actually an ecological chain, from design, manufacturing to packaging testing, there are professional companies. Like Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Broadcom are chip design companies, designing chip solutions to find chip manufacturers. Chip manufacturers like TSMC and SMIC, and the Yangtze River storage, do not do chip design, only do wafers. Even the chip of the Apple 10 mobile phone is also looking for a factory in Taiwan.
As Li Dongsheng said, the fab's investment scale reaches tens of billions and hundreds of billions. TCL will not invest because there are not so many resources, but TCL will cut into the chip design in the form of light assets. Soup Technology, Cambrian, will also use their chips.
Therefore, from the perspective of risk reduction, Gree is a pragmatic approach to chip design. Do high-end chip design, you can support or acquire some chip design companies, after 5 to 10 years, continue to design, apply, improve, and perhaps one day to achieve a breakthrough. However, if it is too hasty, even if it is invested 50 billion yuan at a time, it will not be immediate. Instead, as in the previous period, Dong Mingzhu said that the share price of the chip Gree Electric Appliances fell.
Wen Weiping, chairman of Aowei Cloud Network (AVC), believes that Gree is a chip that needs to be divided into two. Home appliances companies urgently need chip support, including core products such as inverter air conditioners and inverter refrigerators. The impact of chips in them is getting more and more important. . The chip itself is the most missing part of the current capacity of Chinese home appliance companies. Therefore, Gree wants to make chips by himself. Its original intention, starting point and courage are worthy of recognition.
However, the technology update of the chip industry is fast, and the investment is large, and the talents and capital are highly intensive. These genes Gree currently do not have much reserves, and it is very difficult to rush into the chip field, especially if it is more difficult and risky to enter the chip manufacturing process.
Of course, Gree is a benchmark company with a market capitalization of over 200 billion listed companies and home appliances. If it is willing to spend a long time planning and steadily advancing, it is not a chance to do chips. Therefore, Gree is a chip, it should be long-term, not too hasty.