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Legislation and Price Drops Boost Uptake of Sensor Technology in Automotive Applications

PALO ALTO, Calif. – May 13, 2008 – Regulatory compliance and increased affordability drive the adoption of new sensor technology in vehicles. Sensors advancements include those affecting tire pressure, engine control, vehicle safety and fuel efficiency.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.technicalinsights.frost.com), Advances in Sensors for Automotive Applications, finds that the availability of better next-generation sensors makes electronics one of the fastest growing areas in automotive technology.

“The increasing economies of scale have made it feasible to apply sensor-based designs that can eliminate or support the mechanical systems in place,” says Technical Insights Industry Analyst Sivam Sabesan. “Advanced technologies such as micromachined sensors have also made it possible to rely on sensors for safety applications.”

Improvements in manufacturing processes now facilitate the manufacture of sensors through silicon etching. These microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors are solid-state, reliable, and cost-effective and used in safety applications such as those controlling airbag activation and dynamic stability.

“The industry is working on creating low cost sensors with better subsystems, thereby reducing the cost of the system as a whole,” notes Sabesan. “Increased processing power has decreased the demands on the hardware, improving the chances of lowering the cost.”

However, the end-user market remains cost conscious and price will be the most important purchase factor in the future, followed by technical capabilities. Sensor manufacturers should try to achieve economies of scale if they wish to meet customer demands.

Consumer sensitivity to fuel costs in countries such as the United Kingdom, where fuel is expensive, also encourages advances in sensor technology. For instance, newer cars with fuel-efficient automatic or continuously variable transmissions require numerous sensors to shift to an appropriate gear.

Fuel efficiency is not the only reason automotive manufacturers look to implement sensors in their products. Another significant factor is government regulations. The need to comply with legislation and standards now forces even reluctant adopters of sensor technology to follow this trend.

In 2005, the U.S. National Highway Transportation Authority mandated that all cars be equipped with tire pressure monitoring system by 2007. This stipulation prompted the development of cost-effective commercial solutions and several other sensors that complemented the standard set of sensors used in the last 20 years. Some of the earliest sensors launched in the mass market were the manifold air pressure sensor and the exhaust oxygen sensor.

“Government legislation has historically played an important role in influencing the adoption of high-value items like catalytic converters in the 1970s being one such example,” notes Sabesan. “Another example is the introduction of fuel injection systems in the late 1970s to cope with the smog regulations in place.”

Likewise, with tight emission regulations, manufacturers will divert a substantial percent of their research expenditures toward sensor technology development for emission control.

Advances in Sensors for Automotive Applications, a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides a technology overview and outlook for the automotive sensor technologies. The study provides an overview of sensor technologies that have found their way into automobiles. Further, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.

If you are interested in an analysis, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview, summary, challenges, and latest coverage of advances in sensors for automotive applications send an e-mail to David Escalante, Corporate Communications, at david.escalante@frost.com with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by e-mail.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.

Frost & Sullivan, the Global Growth Consulting Company, partners with clients to accelerate their growth. The company's Growth Partnership Services, Growth Consulting and Career Best Practices empower clients to create a growth focused culture that generates, evaluates and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 30 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Partnerships, visit http://www.frost.com.

Advances in Sensors for Automotive Applications
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