Conventional blade manufacturers will fight to remain competitive and retain unit shipment share by slashing prices, especially in the older vehicle segment.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (automotive.frost.com), North American Wiper Blades and Refills Aftermarket, finds that the wiper blades market earned revenues of $509.7 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $809.2 million in 2014. Furthermore, the wiper refills market generated $21.8 million in 2007and is expected to fall to $7.7 million in 2014.
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All major participants should consider shifting production to low-cost countries in Asia and South America to maintain profitability. Additionally, a focus on innovative beam blades will ensure top participants maintain their presence in the wiper blades aftermarket.
Currently, beam blades outperform conventional blades due to their superior value proposition. Companies can persuade customers to pay a premium for beam blades by highlighting their durability and convenience of replacement.
Beam blades could also lure customers from the uni-blades and snow blades segments, since beam blades exhibit better performance in the rain, function as effectively as snow blades during peak winters, and do not require replacement in warmer climates. Furthermore, an expected increase in uni-blade installations in future Toyota and Lexus vehicles will generate replacement opportunities in the aftermarket.
The beam blades segment will gain at the expense of the wiper refills aftermarket. Most notably, the popularity of beam blades could eliminate the need for inconvenient refills.
"Beam blades' exponential growth will be based on the product's all-season, frameless, non-refillable, and attractive design as well as its superior pressure distribution system through the integrated flexors," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Avijit Ghosh. "It offers improved performance at high speeds, by incorporating an integrated spoiler, and provides a smoother and quieter wipe due to the absence of a metal superstructure."
When developing sophisticated beam blades, manufacturers must consider that unique wiper arms require specific adapters to install blades. This compels vehicle owners to replace their existing blades with those that have similar part numbers. Since original equipment installed beam blades have unique fittings, they can only be replaced with beam blades. Therefore, the beam blades aftermarket will continue to grow in unit shipments and revenues during the forecast period between 2008 and 2014.
"Overall, an increase in the number of vehicles in operation, an older average vehicle age, and rising parts proliferation due to improved application of technologies, will likely drive both the unit shipment and revenues of the wiper blades aftermarket," notes Ghosh.
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North American Wiper Blades and Refills Aftermarket / N41C