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Electronic stability control systems' sales to rise

Posted: 12 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronic stability control? sales car ESC? MEMS? automotive application?

Despite the plunging demand for cars, electronic stability control (ESC) systems' sales are expected to continue to rise in the coming years. It will generate attractive opportunities for suppliers of MEMS sensors used in these systems, according to research firm iSuppli Corp.

ESC builds on anti-lock braking system (ABS) technology by correcting vehicle direction to help drivers maintain control of their vehicle during rapid steering and counter-steering changes, which may occur during sudden lane changes or swerves to avoid obstacles.

Worst year for automakers
iSuppli recently reported that 2008 is expected to be the worst year in nearly a generation for the U.S. car market, with shipments of just 13.3 million units, down 17.7 percent from 16.2 million in 2007. Western European auto sales are expected to decline to 15.4 million, down 8.2 percent from 16.9 million in 2007.

However, worldwide penetration of ESC technology in new cars will grow to 57 percent in 2012, up from 28 percent in 2006. This is according to iSuppli's research findings in its report "Mandates Reshape the Market for Electronic Stability Control Systems."

"Based on industry input, iSuppli's new report on ESC systems and components includes groundbreaking research on factors driving the market, and the competitive positions of suppliers of MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes and pressure sensors," said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS at iSuppli. "Among the major findings is that shipments of ESC systems and associated MEMS will continue to rise, despite the current downturn, due to government mandates requiring stability control in the United States and later in Europe. This provides opportunities for at least six players new to the ESC marketeither in development or sampling gyroscopesand likewise four companies developing product for accelerometers. We expect that the new offerings may begin in the truck market before attacking the large automotive OEMs."

Market leaders
MEMS accelerometers are a key component of ESC systems, measuring lateral slip (i.e. any sideways deviation from a car's intended trajectory).

In this market, VTI Technologies was the leader in 2007 with a 53 percent share of industry revenue. VTI supplies all the MEMS accelerometers used by Continental Automotive Systems, the leading supplier of ESC systems.

Bosch is in second place, supplying accelerometers for its own systems and to Mobis. It held a 29 percent share of ESC accelerometer revenue in 2007.

Watch out for Panasonic
The gyroscope in an ESC system measures a car's yaw rate. Systron Donner was the market leader with a 44 percent share of market revenue in 2007. The company was the only supplier to Continental Automotive Systems, with its high-performance quartz tuning fork design. Bosch was second last year with 30 percent of revenue due to sales of gyroscopes for its own ESC systems.

However, the company to watch in this segment is Panasonic, which held the No. 4 rank for ESC gyroscope revenue in 2007. The company managed to surpass Silicon Sensing Systems in terms of unit shipments in 2007, giving it the No.-3 ranking based on volume.

"Panasonic is on the rise in the ESC gyroscope market with a robust and inexpensive new gyroscope, and could jump several more places in the next five years," Dixon said.

The pressure sensor modulates the braking of individual wheels to realize changes in trajectory calculated by the motion sensors of the ESC system. In 2007, Bosch led the market with 54 percent share of revenue. Sensata, a 2006 spin-off from Texas Instruments Inc., is the second major player with a 34 percent share of revenue, with Denso a distant third place.

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