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More brushless DC motors enter cars

Posted: 11 Nov 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive market? electrical motor? brushless motor control?

The automobile market has crashed, affecting component suppliers. But according to IMS Research, there remain areas where the electrical motor market is growing.

With light vehicle sales having experienced the largest drop in living memory in most western economies, one would expect a reduction in the number of electrical motors used in automotive applications. However, The World Market for Electrical Motors in Automotive Applications report shows that the continued growth in vehicle sales in regions such as China and South America, the continued penetration of actuated systems into a greater number of vehicles and the innovation of new technologies requiring motors have helped soften the drop in demand to some degree.

Demand for some types of electrical motors is holding up better than for others. The brushless DC motor market, for example, is performing relatively well. To quantify this, worldwide sales of motors used in automotive applications are estimated to have dropped by almost 20 percent, from 2.3 billion units, over the period 2007 to 2009. In contrast, sales of brushless DC motors are estimated to decrease by only 6 percent over the same period.

Nevertheless, the market for brushless DC motors in automotive is still small, accounting for only around 5 percent of motors used in automotive applications. Also many high volume applications, such as seat adjustment or window actuation, only require intermittent operation. So while brushless DC motors may be used in some top-end vehicles, primarily to benefit from the reduced noise levels of the motor, this is not true for the "mass market".

According to report co-author, Alex West, "In spite of the higher cost of these products, the greater reliability and energy efficiency as well as longer lifetimes of brushless DC motors, make them popular in applications with high duty cycles. Already many of the fuel pump applications have switched from brushed to brushless. This replacement trend is expected to continue in water pump applications, such as in cooling systems." Other applications also using this technology include dual clutch and automated manual transmission, as well as HVAC and power steering systems. Also, as the market for electric and hybrid vehicles increases, this is expected to spur demand for the more efficient brushless DC motors.

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