The automotive sensors market will remain a supplier battleground, and prices will continue to fall.
That assessment comes from Frost & Sullivan, a Mountain View, Calif., research firm. Its study of the North American automotive sensors market projects relatively flat revenue growth for sensors, from $2.2 billion in 1997 to $2.4 billion in 2004.
Strong revenue growth in fuel and exhaust systems sensors will be partially offset by significantly lower sales of airbag system sensors. And electromechanical crash sensors will continue to be replaced by electronic units.
Frost & Sullivan calls the automotive sensors market mature, as sensors are already used in most major vehicle systems. The company estimates total unit shipments for the seven years will grow by 12 percent.
Automotive sensors typically cost between $3 and $15 each. They monitor vehicle conditions such as the amount of oxygen in exhaust gases, and send electrical signals back to the appropriate control modules.
A typical vehicle has about 20 sensors, says Randy Frank, a marketing manager in Motorola Inc.'s Semi-conductor Products Sector. Luxury cars can have as many as 60.
New uses for sensors are likely in electric steering systems and drive-by-wire systems. Sensors may also be used to monitor the condition of engine oil and determine the need for oil changes. Frost & Sullivan notes, however, that automakers are finding ways to use one sensor for multiple sensing duties. This economizing may offset the volume growth from new sensing applications.
The complete Frost & Sullivan study costs $2,950. To order, contact Kathleen Cooney at (650) 237-4385.