The rising average age of vehicles (currently at 10.5 years) is the main factor driving the demand for engine control units (ECUs) in North America, according to a new analysis by Frost & Sullivan. Increasing technical complexities in parts and the growing number of vehicles in operation are further unlocking replacement opportunities in the ECU aftermarket.
The new analysis by Frost & Sullivan, “2015 North American Category Management Report — Engine Control Units,” finds that the market earned revenues of $155 million in 2014 and estimates this to reach $191.2 million by 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent. The new ECU segment is likely to register a CAGR of 3.4 percent until 2021, and the remanufactured ECU segment, a CAGR of 2.8 percent during the same period.
“The advent of sophisticated software-based ECU units is spurring the sales of new ECUs in North America,” said Benson Augustine, Frost & Sullivan intelligent mobility research analyst. “Their perceived superior quality and suppliers’ efforts to keep their prices from exceeding those of comparable remanufactured parts will ensure there is no dip in new ECUs’ popularity.”
Meanwhile, the constraints associated with the availability of old cores, especially for older model vehicles, are proving to be a major blow to the remanufactured ECU industry, according to Frost & Sullivan’s analysis. The influx of low-priced Asian imports is fragmenting the market further, at the same time ensuring competitive pricing and increase in the availability of options, the firm says.
On the other hand, moving to new software-based ECUs comes with its own set of challenges, including steep investments in R&D. The acceptance of complex products also will depend on the skill and ability of technicians to detect and diagnose ECU-related issues. Leveraging existing channel strongholds and pitching aggressive prices in both segments will be essential for market share expansion in the region.
In addition, training technicians on remote diagnosis and standardizing practices, such as core sharing and core architecture, will be vital in the ECU aftermarket, the research finds. Success of aftermarket ECUs could primarily depend on building an alternative best-fit that involves both older and new ECUs, especially in terms of facilitating service points such as remote diagnostics.
“Market leaders could also turn to e-commerce to reduce costs and improve the range of ECUs offered,” said Augustine. “In fact, suppliers that build multi-channel distribution networks and partner with original equipment manufacturers will be well-positioned to benefit from the growth in demand for ECUs in the North American aftermarket.”
The “2015 North American Category Management Report — Engine Control Units” is a market insight that is part of the Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Service program. This research service offers an in-depth analysis of pricing and distribution channels as well as a detailed discussion on unit shipments and revenue forecasts. The study also includes a competitive and market share analysis on both the new and remanufactured ECU aftermarket segments in North America.
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