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Drives market grows despite hardships

01 August, 2001

European sales of variable speed drives have continued to expand, despite fierce price-cutting and the economic slowdown. The market analyst Frost & Sullivan has produced a pair of reports looking at drives rated above and below 75kW, and has found growth in both halves of the business.

Sales of AC and DC drives below 75kW amounted to $1.09bn in 2000, F&S says. "Although it had long been expected that price levels had reached a low point and there was no scope for further reductions, manufacturers are continuing to lower price levels on a regular basis," says Mik Sabiers, F&S` European research manager for motors, drives and controls. He attributes this to the suppliers wanting to expand their customer bases.

In the low-power AC sector, sales grew by 4.7% to $955.8m last year, while the total nuumber of drives shipped grew by 9.4% to 1.1m. The biggest growth in demand was for drives under 2.2kW. F&S forecasts that by 2007, around 1.8m low-power AC drives, worth $1.26bn, will be sold in Europe.

More than 127,000 low-power DC drives were sold in Europe last year, generating an income of $134.1m. Frost & Sullivan reports that that this market will continue to decline, but prices will rise gradually, to produce a market worth $124.5m in 2007.

In the 75kW-plus drives sector, F&S reports that sales grew by 2.9%, to reach $427.5m last year. By 2007, it expects the business to be worth $533.7m with 23,000 drives being shipped (compared to 18,200 in 2000). AC drives account for just over 70% of the market with sales of drives rated between 75kW and 250kW representing 44% of the total market.

The large drives sector has not escaped the price wars. "Growth in revenues has not been as fast as the rise in demand," says F&S research analyst, Sean French, "due mainly to the adverse pressure of falling prices as a result of the high levels of competition".

The two reports are part of a new European Electric Drives Market service being offered by Frost & Sullivan. Details can be found on the Web at

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