LONDON (Nov. 15) — Vehicle makers in Europe will increase their use of air suspension systems steadily throughout the coming decade, according to a new study, driven by the adoption of electronic steering and braking systems that will eliminate hydraulics.
The new report, "Strategic Analysis of the European Suspension Systems Market" by market researchers Frost & Sullivan Inc., states air suspension systems account for only 3 percent of the market now, but use of such systems should increase markedly by 2012-13 when steer- and brake-by-wire systems become more common.
Frost & Sullivan said growth will come especially from the lower value segments.
"In the face of a growing trend toward the elimination of hydraulics in cars and for integrated chassis control," the report states, "electronically controlled air suspension is likely to be the technology of the future.
"However, vehicle manufacturers are likely to sharpen their focus on the development of suspension-by-wire as well, but only after other vital systems such as brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire are launched in larger volumes. Hence, its introduction in select applications is expected only around 2012-2013."
The market research firm went on to say the "increasing willingness of end users to pay for significant improvements of the vehicles´ comfort and ride-handling features" is prompting the auto industry to invest considerable resources into researching and developing advanced suspension systems.
Frost & Sullivan puts the value of the front and rear suspension systems markets at slightly more than $1 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively, in 2004.
The 11-chapter report is available from Frost & Sullivan for $9,500.