Issue: May 2003


Inside Line



Airbag Market Change in U.S., Europe

If the last few years have seen the market for frontal airbags in both European and North American produced cars reach saturation point, the largest growth over the next few years will be in airbags designed primarily to protect occupants in side-impacts or rollovers.

Most manufacturers have opted to replace combined head/side (thorax) airbags with separate thorax airbags and side curtains. As the accompanying chart indicates, installation rates for these airbags are much higher in Europe than in North America. This will likely continue to be the case unless legislation governing side-impacts is introduced in the North American (specifically the U.S.) market. Currently the U.S. requires standard front driver and passenger airbags. In Europe, the momentum towards airbag market saturation is largely driven by successful marketing of safety as a product differentiator and therefore selling point, illuminated by the much-publicized EuroNCAP crash test results.

Beyond 2008, CSM does not expect further significant growth in the overall market for airbag modules in Europe. Ongoing developments in technology will, however, lead to ever smarter occupant protection, in combination with collision avoidance systems.



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