A number of cost and liability factors are constraining growth for suppliers of safety systems, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

Safety has been seen as one of the industry's hottest sectors. But new vehicle buyers are showing less willingness to pay a premium for safety features than expected.

And costs are higher than expected because of a lack of standardisation and the resulting high manufacturing costs.

This has made it tough for OEMs to introduce new active safety features across a wide range of models.

In addition, products such as active steering are taking time to filter down from the premium segments.

Vehicle manufacturers are also concerned about liability in the event of a system failure and have been cautious about actively promoting safety benefits.

Still, the market for active safety is expected to grow significantly by 2010, primarily in the area of vertical stability of vehicles, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Anil Valsan.

But the next significant leap in stability systems will only come with the integration of steering, braking and suspension systems in the vehicle, allowing electronic stability control (ESC) systems to be supplied as part of these systems.

The second major safety-related growth area is likely to come from driver warning and information systems, Valsan said.

The focus is on blind spot warning/lane change assistants and the lane deviation warning/lane keeping systems.

The market for passive safety system products such as airbags and seatbelts is a mature one. It is expected to grow by less than 1% a year to the end of 2010. Only new products such as curtain airbags and front side airbags will experience any significant growth, the study finds.
Frost & Sullivan believes that over time, the integration of active and passive systems will be needed to enhance the functionality of safety systems and to lower the cost of the features and allow sharing of components between different systems.

"The process of integration is likely to happen as a continuous evolution rather than in distinct phases and will primarily be achieved by using more sophisticated in-vehicle networking solutions to connect various safety systems," Valsan said.

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