The global axles market is expected to experience a substantial growth over the forecast period. Stringent government norms to curtail emissions and fuel usage calls for the development of efficient and light-weight vehicles, leading to research and development on vehicle components. Additionally, increased vehicle production increased safety and comfort demands from the consumers may also act as growth drivers over the forecast period. However, fluctuating raw material prices and healthy competition may pose challenges to the manufacturers.
Axles are a crucial part of an automobile design and serve the tasks of load bearing, steering, safety, comfort and power delivery (live axles). Axle design directly affects the fuel efficiency and performance, leading to active research on these components.
Axles can be classified as live, dead and tandem axles, and on their position in a vehicle. The tandem axles are a niche product segment limited to heavy load bearing vehicles such as trailers. The demand for front and rear axles, however, continues to increase substantially owing to growth in the sales of automobiles post the 2008 economic depression. Axles find applications in heavy vehicles, luxury vehicles, economy vehicles, AWD (All Wheel Drive) and railways. The live axle market exhibits a high growth potential due to its increasing use in automobiles and continuous product development, although the market for railway bogie axles provides limited growth owing to lower development and replacement rates.
Car manufacturers work in collaboration with OEMs for desired design and specification, giving a high opportunity for innovations and growth. Axle manufacturers research on different materials for improving the durability and strength while reducing the weight of the components leading to the bifurcation of industry suppliers and creation of various supply chain. Collaborative developments between manufacturers and raw material suppliers may also lead to a substantial industry growth. Factors such as the need for fuel-efficient automobiles and light-weight components also drive the research in the industry. However, automobile manufacturers face profitability issues due to the fluctuations in the raw material prices, which may hinder growth.
The rear axle, being a vital component for support, comfort, and safety, exhibits a high growth potential and companies can capitalize on the continuous research and development by offering innovative products. Electronic Control Units (ECU) being employed in modern automobiles call for collaborative product developments for better integration and performance of the products. High focus on fuel efficiency and the need to curtail power loss has led manufacturers to invest in research.
Europe is expected to capture a sizeable market share of the global axle market. The North American Axle market, although saturated also provides growth opportunities owing to the advent of AWD vehicles. Active research on the drive train and computer control equipment leads to new designs and acts for the market. The Asian and African markets, with their growing population and increased disposable income, attract manufacturers with the availability of low-cost labor and infrastructure.
Key companies in the axle industry include Automotive Axles Ltd, Meritor, Rockwell American, GNA Axles Ltd, Daimler Trucks North America and ROC Spicer Ltd. Companies opt for tie-ups with suppliers to source cost-effective raw materials and expanding manufacturing facilities in developing economies, such as China and India, with an aim to boost profitability by capitalizing on the availability of low-cost labor.
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