2014 MANAGEMENT BRIEFING SEMINARS

Software is key to sizzling active safety market, Delphi exec says

Delphi's Jeff Owens: "You've got a lot more volume coming in that space, despite big price pressure."

Photo credit: Greg Horvath
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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The $14 billion global market for collision avoidance and driver assistance is expected to grow about 25 percent a year -- a growth rate that has established active safety as one of the auto industry’s hottest segments.

“It’s huge,” Jeff Owens, Delphi Automotive’s chief technical officer, said today on the sidelines of the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars. “You’ve got a lot more volume coming in that space, despite big price pressure.”

Owens expects Delphi will increase its annual sales of active safety componentry by $200 million from 2013 through 2016.

While the cost of hardware such as radar and cameras continues to decline, automakers have a growing need for software to make collision avoidance systems work. Once a vehicle has been equipped with forward-looking radar and cameras — say, for intelligent cruise control — automakers can add features such as pedestrian detection simply by adding software.

Automakers also have a bottomless need for software that can integrate the vehicle’s battery of sensors for features such as 360-degree obstacle detection. That provides new revenue opportunities for companies such as Delphi.

Despite his growth expectations in the market for active safety, Owens questions whether automakers will introduce fully autonomous vehicles. While the technology is progressing nicely, issues such as legal liability and the motorist’s privacy could be thorny.

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com.


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