Trends in Automotive Wiring

Provided by CRU

Major changes underway

Vehicle production is at record levels, but the market is changing rapidly: more demand in emerging markets, tougher goals for weight and efficiency, and more on-board electronic features.

More wiring, tougher specifications

Three important forces of change in the automotive industry will affect the wire and cable industry. The first is a long-term trend to more cars on the road, mainly in the emerging markets. This has a bearing on where cars are made and where the wire harnesses are made and used.

The second is the industry-wide imperative to design lighter, more fuel-efficient cars. This has a bearing on conductor specification and harness design. The third is the trend to more electronic interfaces throughout the drive train and control systems, plus inside the passenger compartment. This is increasing the number and complexity of harnesses in vehicles.

More cars on the road

There are almost one billion cars and light trucks in use worldwide. LMC Automotive, reported a world total of 962 million for 2013, and the LMC data shows annual growth rates ranging from 2.4% to 3.6% since 2010. Growth was less than 1% in 2008 and 2009 due to the recession. LMC is a firm that collects automotive industry statistics. With growth remaining above 3% this year, the 2014 total will be more than 990 million. The increased number of vehicles-in-use results from increased longevity and from more sales of new cars. Organizations such as the European Automobile Manufacturers Association and R.L. Polk have released data showing the average age of vehicles-in-use has been steadily increasing since 2002. The average age is projected to continue rising, due to improvements in vehicle reliability. In addition, worldwide sales of cars and light trucks have increased from 64 million units in 2009 to 84 million in 2013.

Growth is in the emerging markets

More than half the 2013 sales of new cars and light trucks were in the emerging markets, according to LMC data. The emerging markets as a group currently has fewer than half the world’s vehicles-in-use. If recent trends are extended, however, half the world’s vehicles-in-use will be in emerging markets in 2019 or 2020.