In 1980 when Nobuyuki Furui started at Toyota's electronics division, he only had some 50 co-workers. Now, as the head of one of five divisions, totalling thousands of workers overall, Nobuyuki knows well just how things have changed in the industry.

As manufacturers move to "active safety" systems over the current "passive safety" systems, demand for electronic semiconductors is set to rise at 10% per year, estimated to reach almost $21 billion by 2007.

Beyond safety alone, the numbers could swell even further as fuel prices soar, and manufacturers look to hybrid technology, and the increasing meld of information technology being built into vehicles.