TSMC Plans to Expand to the EU

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Many media outlets reported that TSMC plans to set up its first European fab which will be located in Germany. TSMC has been working toward expanding to Europe for a few years but the Russian invasion of Ukraine significantly delayed those proposals.

European car manufacturers have been struggling because of a significant shortage of relatively low-value chips used in cars and it seems like launching a fab in Dresden aims to directly solve their needs. Europe is a tiny business for TSMC (6% net revenue) and more importantly, European companies rarely utilize cutting-edge chips in their products.

The European expansion seems different from what TSMC is trying to achieve in Arizona. The existing European customer base and their needs are vastly different from those of Apple and Nvidia.

Even though I view the TSMC fab in Arizona as a potential long-term security concern for Taiwan, I do not think the same way about the upcoming manufacturing plants in Europe. I suspect that printing chips in Europe will mostly help deal with supply chain issues and rising shipping costs. I doubt that the problem of brain drain will occur as chips used in cars (and other consumer products made in the EU) require vastly inferior engineering power compared to cutting-edge products created in Taiwan.

It’s quite clear that this expansion will be more beneficial to the EU government and European companies than TSMC itself. At the minimum, the Taiwanese company should expect its EU revenue stream to increase.