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Surround-view cameras at risk of losing market

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:surround-view camera? rear-view camera? U.S. market?

Although the Kids and Transportation Safety Act in the U.S. has roused the suppliers for automotive rear-view cameras, the same cannot be said for surround-view camera suppliers. The reason for this is that the current technical specification does not permit surround-view cameras as substitutes to traditional rear-view cameras.

The Kids and Transportation Safety Act was passed in February 2008 to prevent accidents while reversing, prompted by consistently high numbers of fatal accidents involving young children. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) published a technical specification in December 2010 that proposed a camera-based system for all passenger cars, trucks and multi-purpose vehicles to aid when reversing. This would mean an increase of approximately 12 million rear-view cameras in just the U.S.

Being excluded from the U.S. market would be a devastating blow for suppliers of surround-view systems. Not only is the U.S. the third largest market in the world, more importantly, it is the largest market for SUVs and crossovers?the type of vehicle most suited to surround-view. For large SUVs and crossovers, the potential world market for 2011 would equate to almost 11 million surround-view cameras. This is because each vehicle requires a minimum of two cameras, with an average of four, and in some cases, five.

A ray of hope still lingers though, as the nature of comments received in the 60-day feedback period following the NHTSA proposal has prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to postpone the final ruling and ask the NHTSA to carry out further tests and review the specification. Having read through the technical specification and the comments made regarding it, it would be very surprising if the NHTSA did not change its current position and allow surround-view, stated Helena Perslow, senior market analyst at IMS Research. Looking at previous legislation, the NHTSA is quite responsive to comments that it receives, although in some instances fairly drastic action has been required?legal action has been taken against the NHTSA to change its position. Hopefully this wont be the case here, but regardless it will cause the uncertainty to drag on.

A final rule is due to be published by December 31, 2011, with full compliance to the final recommendation set for February 2015. IMS Research assumes the NHTSA will change the specification and forecasts that the surround-view camera market will be worth over one billion dollars in 2019.

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