Demand for automotive sensors in the North American light vehicle OEM market will increase 10.7% annually to $US4.5 billion in 2007 according to a new study by Cleveland-based research company Freedonia Group.

The Freedonia study found that while automotive sensor demand over the past five years experienced only moderate growth, demand is expected to accelerate rapidly over the next five years, as multiple new mandated products that prominently feature new sensor applications are rolled out, and as market-driven technology introductions accelerate. The average number of sensors in the typical North American light vehicle has almost doubled in the past decade, says Freedonia.

The study also found that engine and drivetrain applications represent the largest and most well established category in sensor use, although future growth will be significantly less dramatic than in other areas of the vehicle platform.

Cost has to an extent inhibited the introduction of new technologies in this area, as OEMs adapt currently used mature products to meet new requirements. Freedonia maintians that emissions control-related sensor demand has been quite strong in recent years, and future growth prospects remain good, driven by tightening regulations in the US and Canada. A large portion of the value in this category resides in oxygen sensors, which continue to both multiply and become more sophisticated.

Safety and security applications promise the greatest growth potential for OEM automotive sensors in North America, propelled by new products that are either mandated by regulations or market driven, according to Freedonia's study.

Key areas of growth include tyre pressure sensors (mandated), additional airbag applications (mandated and market driven), occupant position sensing systems (mandated), and headway sensors such as those employed in follow-on cruise control systems (market driven).

Another Freedonia finding is that the North American market lags behind Europe in the adoption of advanced active safety and security systems such as electronic stabilisation programme systems or electronic braking systems. The penetration of current antilock brake systems appears to have stalled at roughly 60% of the market, Freedonia says.

For more details of the Freedonia Group automotive sensors study, click this link