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12 billion non-industrial motors set to ship by 2018

21 November, 2013

Global sales of electric motors for non-industrial applications – from domestic appliances to cars – will grow from 9.8 billion in 2012 to 12 billion by 2018, according to a new study by IHS. It attributes the predicted 23% growth partly to consumers demanding higher efficiencies and more automated features in their products.

“Electric motors are such an essential part of everyday life that consumption of these devices has continued to rise in recent years, even when consumer buying power decreased in 2011 and 2012,” reports Bryan Turnbough, IHS’s motors and mechanical power transmission analyst. “The growing expanse of the middle class, coupled with increases in household automation and the number of electric motor-driven products around the home, are major drivers of growth.

“The demand for higher-efficiency products from both governments and consumers is changing the landscape of the small-motor market,” he adds. “Although there will always be a market for small inexpensive motors in non-industrial applications, high-efficiency AC and DC brushless motor manufacturers are likely to benefit the most from future growth. Higher numbers of high-efficiency motors in non-industrial products are also increasing demand for motor controllers and semiconductor components, benefiting semiconductor suppliers.”

The automotive sector is a major buyer of non-industrial motors, with today’s light vehicles averaging more than 30 electric motors per vehicle. Buyers are increasingly demanding features such as power roofs, automatic transmissions and power tailgates.

“American consumers aren’t the only ones wanting more advanced features in vehicles,” Turnbough says. “The sales growth of luxury and high-end cars in Asia, for instance, is far outpacing sales of standard and entry-level vehicles in that area, which is having a strong positive impact on electric motor sales in Asia.”

About 470 million of the 2.4 billion motors sold to the global automotive industry last year were shipped in China, generating sales worth $19.2bn.

Global shipments of non-industrial electric motors (billions)
Source: IHS

One area where sales of non-industrial motors has been declining is in desktop PCs and laptops. “There can be anywhere from three to six motors used in every computer sold for disk drives and ventilation fans,” Turnbough explains. “But the replacement of personal computers with devices such as smartphones, which require a single motor [to produce vibrations] that costs less than one dollar, is creating downward pressure on sales for motor manufacturers such as Nidec, Johnson Electric and Mabuchi.”

As the housing market picks up, it is driving demand for electric motors used in appliances and residential HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) products. For example, more than 450 million motors are used in refrigerators and washing machines every year.

But IHS predicts that residential HVAC systems are poised to drive faster growth for electric motors than domestic appliances, with the former enjoying a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 5.3% from 2012 to 2018 in unit shipments.

The sales growth of motors for consumer electronic applications is being limited by miniaturisation and the convergence of electronic gadgets into single devices capable of performing multiple tasks.

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