An MLCC shortage has been looming due to the growth in its use in smartphones, 5G production, and autonomous vehicles amidst government shutdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The current shortage is reminiscent of the 2018 shortage of automotive-specific MLCCs that rocked the industry. While the majority of MLCCs produced are used in consumer electronics and 5G smartphonesthe components are also prevalent in the automotive sector. High capacity MLCC supply is particularly tight due to high demand for 5G mobile, PCs, and laptops, competing with reallocation toward the automotive market. This is a growing sector as more and more MLCCs are required in electric vehicles, autonomous vehicle technology, and driving assistance systems (ADAS). 

By 2025, the global MLCC market is projected to be worth 14.36 billion USD – an increase of 5.31 billion USD from 2019, but worldwide wafer and raw materials shortages continue to impede production. 

Passive components follow a cyclical pattern of merchant market commodity products and, in particular, legacy case size MLCCs (widely used in the US and Europe) have become difficult to source in recent months. Lead times are extending from 16 to 20 weeks, with some even stretching to 30 weeks (large case sizes have always been challenging, but smaller case sizes are now feeling the pinch as well).

Yageo announced its second quarter pricing for MLCCs and resistors, and plans on a quarterly pricing adjustment for the rest of 2021. Samsung raised prices by 20-30% on 30 line items in March, and lead times continue to extend. 

Already, it has been reported that competitors Murata and Taiyo Yuden have extended delivery time amid the growing demand and ongoing effects of COVID-19. In addition, Murata is reportedly implementing strict measures for taking in new orders and dealing with a 3-month backlog.

With no end to raw material shortages in sight, analysts predict the MLCC supply will continue to be tight through Q3 2021. 


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