Hybrid powertrain market set for soaring growth

Market intelligence firm Strategy Analytics is predicting that the combined annual growth of full and mild hybrid powertrains will be 38 per cent over the period 2007-2012, representing a significant market opportunity for semiconductors, though costs will limit overall hybrid vehicle production.

The Strategy Analytics Automotive Electronics Service report 'Hybrid Vehicle Market Forecast: Environmental and Fuel Cost Concerns Stimulate Demand' concludes that the more cost effective mild hybrid solution will see faster growth (79 per cent) mainly from Honda and European OEMs, although market leader Toyota will have a head start.

The higher cost to consumers and the limitations imposed by current battery technology are holding back hybrid deployment. "Despite their enthusiasm for environmentally friendly vehicles, consumers are anxious not to pay higher prices during this global recession", said Kevin Mak, Automotive Electronics analyst.

In response to this, OEMs are developing ways of reducing the break-even period to repay the hybrid premium and thus make hybrid purchases worthwhile. "Tougher emission standards will also drive hybrid development – even European car makers will be involved despite good progress in reducing CO2 using diesel technology."

The semiconductor market supplying hybrid powertrains will increase rapidly, from $384m in 2008 to $1.3bn in 2015, the report says, mainly in power devices but also in analogue microcontrollers and sensors.

"Electrification in powertrains will deliver significant opportunities for semiconductor vendors," added Chris Webber, vice president, Global Automotive Practice.

Honda is unveiling its new 2009 Insight hybrid in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The company says the Insight is expected to have annual global sales of 200,000 units per year – half of them in North America.

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