October 24, 2012 / 4:05 PM / 6 years ago

Driver assistance firm Mobileye sees years of doubling sales

JERUSALEM, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Mobileye, which makes technology to help drivers, expects sales to more than double every year for the next few years as car manufacturers look to offer more safety features and self-drive cars gain in popularity.

The privately-held Israeli company has just sold its one millionth driver assistance system globally after launching the product in 2005, and expects to sell 2 million more in 2013.

“Our goal is to be in every new car in the world,” Ziv Aviram, Mobileye’s co-founder and chief executive said. “One million ... is the tip of the iceberg.”

Mobileye’s systems include a camera mounted on the windshield that takes pictures of what is in front of the driver. A chip, manufactured by STMicroelectronics, processes the images and in real-time issues audio-visual warnings to drivers on a small device on the dashboard.

Among the warnings are those for collision if another car is too close, and hitting a pedestrian. The system automatically brakes prior to impact.

Paul Grimme, STMicro’s executive vice president, said safety products are among the fastest growing areas for auto electronics, while collision warning systems are growing most rapidly.

The systems, sold to suppliers and automakers for a little more than $100 each, are currently an option for customers in 10 car brands including BMW, Volvo, General Motors, Ford, Opel and Hyundai.

From 2014, they will start to be a standard feature on many cars due to new regulations that will require driver assistance systems for cars to receive 5-star safety ratings.

“By 2016, 2017 every car will have a driving assist system, so every car will have a camera,” Amnon Shashua, Mobileye’s co-founder and chief technology officer, told Reuters, adding that Mobileye has an 80 percent market share in the sector.

Shashua said the company has annual revenue well above $50 million and is profitable, with sales doubling in each of the last three years.

It has cash reserves of more than $100 million and doesn’t need to raise money at the moment, but the company has plans to go public in the United States in another year or two, he added.

In addition to its driver assistance systems, Mobileye is also banking on self-driving for future growth.

Aviram said it has linked up with three automakers, which he would not name, for the project.

“It’s not meant (for you) to sit in the passenger seat and sleep but when you are bored (of driving) you simply let go and the car will stop when you get to traffic lights,” Shashua said.

Such a system will be sold to automakers for around $200 and will include 5 cameras in the car. The first systems, which will be functional for slower driving, will be launched in 2014, while it will be useable at fast speeds from 2016, Shashua said.

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