Issue: Dec 2002

Inside Line

Trends Indicate That All-Wheel-Drive Will Be All The Rage

Analyzing industry trends is a lot like panning for gold: After hours of painstaking work, sometimes all you get is some dirt along with sore, dirty fingers.  However, every once in a while, a sliver of gold appears and makes all the work worthwhile. Heres a trend that is probably more gold than dirt (but, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder):  During the next five years (between 2002 and 2007) the number of four-wheel drive vehicles (normally-configured rear-wheel vehicles offering four-wheel drive) produced in North America will remain relatively stable at 3.8 million vehicles, while all-wheel drive vehicles (normally-configured front-wheel drive vehicles offering four-wheel drive) will leap from 484,000 to 1.4 million vehicles.  As a percentage of vehicles produced the latter group grows from 3.0 percent of the market to 8.3 percent.

What does this mean?  First, the OEMs are moving the off-road performance to cars of all segments, not just crossovers SUVs.  This means more driveline and chassis content and complexity in segments that previously only offered front-wheel drive.  For suppliers, it means more opportunity for those companies that can offer innovative functionality in more constrained, under-car spaces.


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