US demand to rise 6.1% annually through 2016
US sales of sensors are forecast to climb at a 6.1 percent annual rate through 2016 to $14.9 billion, showing significant improvement over market performance between 2006 and 2011. Demand will be fueled by rebounds in motor vehicle and machinery production, government mandates requiring all new light vehicles to be equipped with electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring systems, and growth in process manufacturers’ shipments. Further development of and new applications for technologies like microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), optoelectronics, and photoelectronics will also help bolster sensor sales. However, the maturity of many sensor markets and improved fabrication techniques that have led to increased sensing abilities at lower costs will temper value gains. In addition, the manufacture of many sensor-laden products, such as consumer electronic devices, has moved overseas, which will further limit market advances.
Chemical property sensors among fastest growing
Process variable sensors will remain the largest product category in dollar terms in 2016, while chemical property sensors and proximity and positioning sensors will post the fastest growth. Chemical sensor sales will be boosted by technological advances that have resulted in smaller, more precise sensors at lower costs, allowing them to be used for additional applications in existing markets, as well as in a number of new markets. The rebound in motor vehicle production, and an expected increase in aftermarket demand for engine oxygen sensors, will provide growth opportunities for chemical sensors used in vehicle emission systems. Proximity and positioning sensor demand will be spurred by output gains for motor vehicles, where these devices are important components in active safety systems like electronic stability control. The renewed strength in shipments of machinery, another important market for proximity and positioning sensors, will also support sales gains.
Motor vehicles to reclaim position as largest market
In 2011, industrial applications overtook motor vehicles to become the largest major sensor market due to still low levels of motor vehicle production compared to earlier peaks. However, thanks to a continuing rebound in motor vehicle output and new, sensor-heavy systems -- including cylinder deactivation, direct fuel injection, electronic stability control, roll-over protection, tire pressure monitoring, and variable-valve timing systems -- motor vehicles will once again become the leading sensor market, accounting for over half of all dollar gains between 2011 and 2016.
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