The light vehicle sensor market is poised for growth, driven by high consumer demand and federal legislation supporting fuel-efficient vehicles.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (automotive.frost.com), North American Automotive Sensors Aftermarket, finds that consumer demand and future legislation supporting fuel-efficient vehicles, coupled with technology shifts among sensor technologies in several high-volume markets, lays the potential framework for significant revenue expansion.
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New legislation emphasizing a higher corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standard is expected, as is a new set of EPA emissions guidelines that examine CO2 output.
"The need for conformance to vehicle emission and fuel economy standards has boosted the demand for sensors," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Matthew Scruggs. "Along with an increase in sensor installations, many technological changes are yet to reach the mainstream market, guaranteeing the proliferation of opportunities."
Economic conditions have proved to be a dampener for the original equipment (OE) market as new vehicle production nosedived. Automakers seek dramatic cost cuts across every aspect of vehicle production as profits continue their descent. However, the aftermarket is affected to a far lesser degree because sensors remain vital for proper vehicle function and must be replaced to rectify malfunctions.
Currently a distinct gravitation towards more precise and accurate sensors is occurring in the OE and aftermarket segments, ratcheting up prices and revenues. This is largely due to consumer desire for improved powertrain performance, especially fuel efficiency. Evidence points to a preference for smaller, inexpensive, fuel efficient vehicles. These meet fuel efficiency targets while maintaining a level of useable power.
Participants in the automotive sensors aftermarket must be wary of major stumbling blocks such as competition from offshore manufacturers, price pressure from OEMs, and the trend toward commoditization. Overseas competitors have the edge in terms of lower overhead costs compared with North American companies. Potential for market expansion depends greatly on a company's ability to avoid commoditization of its products and remain price-competitive with offshore manufacturers.
Product innovation and strategic product placement remain critical factors for success, and many options that had been explored earlier and proven viable have been exhausted. However, select sensors and applications command a higher percentage of revenues in this market, and participants can place special emphasis on these key areas. Innovation, in terms of both product applications and technology, is crucial for participants to steer clear of growth limitations caused by market stagnation.
"There are certain clearly-defined strategic cornerstone products in the sensor market," explains Scruggs. "Market share leaders recognize and capitalize on this, as must all participants interested in growing in this highly competitive market; participants cannot afford to slack in any area."
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