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The global automotive electronic control unit (ECU) market size was USD 73.4 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 84.0 billion by 2027, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.7% during the forecast period.
In recent years, modern vehicles are composed of various ECUs to improve vehicle performance. The electronic control unit controls various actuators on the internal combustion (IC) engine to ensure the normal operation of the engine. These units control the oxygen content in the exhaust, engine speed, coolant temperature, etc. For example, in 2017, Mercedes-Benz equipped all its E-class models, including the plug-in hybrid version, its newly-developed central powertrain controller. ECUs act as a gateway between the various units of the powertrain, and can also undertake the control functions of other equipment. The units are customized to meet the requirements of electrification and interconnected powertrains.
Disrupted Manufacturing Activities in the Automotive Industry to Stall Market Growth
The COVID-19 pandemic has had multiple serious impacts on the globally-integrated automotive industry. The effects of the coronavirus include the interruption of mass manufacturing throughout Europe, closure of assembly plants in the US, and the interruption of Chinese parts exports. This has put a tremendous burden on businesses that are already crumbling under the effects of the weakening global demand for vehicles and may lead to increased merger & acquisition activity. However, the automotive electronic control unit market is expected to restore its growth trajectory as the demand for electric vehicles is steady in the major economies, even amid the current pandemic.
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Remapping of ECUs in Vehicles to Drive Market Growth
Many car manufacturers do not maximize the performance of their cars. The engine performance of the vehicle is restricted by the vehicle manufacturer. The ECU settings can be easily adjusted to achieve the smooth performance of the vehicle, improve fuel efficiency, and obtain more horsepower according to the driving conditions or the requirements of the owner. Turbocharged engines can achieve better engine performance. The remapping of these turbocharged vehicles leads to enhanced performance because the power of the turbocharger can be increased. In addition to the excellent performance, electronic control units can also improve vehicle fuel economy. The remapping of the ECU can help increase the mileage of the vehicle because the remapping of the ECU can help attain appropriate control of fuel flow.
Increasing Adoption of Integrated ECUs to Fuel Growth
In recent years, vehicles have been equipped with highly distributed ECUs. Each ECU has its own functional requirements, and due to the car's electronic equipment, its respective hardware components (such as wiring, computing platform, and sensors) have become more complex. For instance, today, most vehicles contain more than 125 ECUs, and more ECUs take up a lot of space in the vehicle.
Integrated ECUs can perform the functions of multiple ECUs from one unit. When integrated, ECUs in different fields work in accordance with general functional requirements. For example, one area is in-vehicle experience, which includes support for augmented reality (AR), rear-seat entertainment, head-up displays, and dashboard. ECUs are very complex and require high-performance graphics, mobile communications, and data streaming. The combination of these functions will eliminate broadband network interference, graphics processing unit (GPU), and the need for a CPU and cameras. Thus, the rising adoption of integrated ECU in vehicles is anticipated to drive the automotive electronic control unit market growth over the forecast period.
Rising Demand for Protection of Vehicle Owner Data to Promote Market Growth
Vehicles connected to Internet-based services are more prone to data theft. For example, third-party vehicle platforms such as Uconnect provide various communication, navigation, and entertainment functions. The U-shaped connection platform can be used in Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, RAM, and Fiat cars. The owners of these vehicles can use their smartphones to lock and start the vehicle engine. However, the platform has stopped working owing to a security breach, which gave hackers full access to the vehicle owner’s data, from bank accounts to medical records. Such important information is stored by the ECU and thus it is necessary to have adequate protection to keep such confidential data safe. Therefore, increasing consumer inclination towards data security is driving the automotive electronic control unit market growth.
ECU Failures and Expensive Repairs May Hinder Market Growth
Failure of the electronic control unit may invalidate the engine's fuel setting and timing, which will negatively affect vehicle performance. This may cause irregular faults in the vehicle, such as a fire or a stall. Such failure events may also hamper fuel efficiency, acceleration, and power reduction.
The ECU is very complex, and most of the interrelated controls influence each other. Therefore, if the ECU completely fails or is tampered with, it may cause the vehicle to dysfunction. A malfunctioning ECU may cause fatal problems such as triggering airbags when not needed, incorrect warnings regarding tire pressure, among others.
Furthermore, owing to the high cost of ECUs and the complexities involved in their integration in the vehicle architecture, there are no additional backups on most vehicles. Hence, failures can lead to a significant cost burden to consumers, which may impede the growth of this market.
Passenger Car Segment to Hold the Largest Market Share
Based on vehicle type, the market is segmented into passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, heavy commercial vehicles, and electric vehicles. The passenger car (PC) segment accounts for the major share in the global market owing to the increasing production of PCs, particularly low and mid-tier automobiles in the Asia Pacific region. The electric vehicle segment is also expected to show exponential growth in the market over the forecast period.
The light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment is also expected to show considerable growth in the market. LCVs such as pickup trucks are equipped with a high number of ECUs to provide enhanced safety and convenience (via functions such as advanced driving assistance). Additionally, the high share of these vehicles in North America and Europe, coupled with increasing demand for SUVs in China and India, are factors attributed to the surge in demand for automotive electronic control units for LCVs.
The heavy commercial vehicle segment is anticipated to show steady growth in the market owing to the rise in demand for easily reprogrammable ECUs that can help reduce maintenance costs and exponentially enhance the operational efficiency of engine and transmission systems.
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ADAS Segment to Hold the Largest Market Share
Based on the application, the market is segmented into powertrain, braking system, body electronics, ADAS, and infotainment. The ADAS segment holds the largest share in the global market. The mandatory inclusion of ADAS features in automobiles such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning, among others, in various countries and the increased adoption of safety systems such as tire pressure monitoring systems, airbags among others are attributed to the growth in this segment.
To enhance the in-vehicle experience and satisfy the increasing demand for in-vehicle infotainment systems, particularly for premium and semi-autonomous vehicles, automotive electronic control units are being used by manufacturers to develop a more comprehensive connected car system. Hence, the infotainment segment is anticipated to show significant growth in the market.
The powertrain segment is also expected to show good growth in the market. Increased focus on optimizing parameters such as air-fuel ratio, fuel injection, and monitoring & control of exhaust, among other combustion functions, are some of the factors driving the growth of this segment.
Asia Pacific Automotive ECU Market Size, 2019 (USD Billion)
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The market size in Asia-Pacific stood at USD 35.5 billion in 2019. The market in this region is characterized by the increase in demand for passenger cars and SUVs and the rapid growth of the automotive industry in China and India and Furthermore, the rise in disposable income of consumers, greater awareness regarding safety features, and increased demand for infotainment applications are key factors driving the growth of the market in this region.
North America is expected to show good growth in the market owing to the increasing demand for premium automobiles in this region. Stringent government regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter, consumers pivoting to more energy-efficient vehicles, and increased adoption of connected car technology are some of the key factors driving the demand for automotive electronic control units in this region.
Europe is also expected to show considerable growth in the market that can be attributed to the growing focus in countries such as Germany and the UK to reduce road fatalities, reduce fuel consumption, and provide efficient engine operations, particularly for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. These are key factors driving the growth of the market in this region.
ZF FRIEDRICHSHAFEN AG is the Top Player in the Market
ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a global technology company that provides automotive systems for industrial technology, commercial vehicles, and passenger cars. The company has a comprehensive technology portfolio and provides integrated solutions for travel providers, vehicle manufacturers, and new companies in the travel and transportation field. The company continues to improve its systems in the areas of digital connectivity and automation.
Up-integration or consolidation of ECUs is a major focus for auto manufacturers. The increasing demand for new functions and advanced safety and driving assistance features have increased the complexities involved in the integration of an increased number of ECUs. Hence, automakers are collaborating with the key ECU developers and suppliers to reduce the use of dedicated ECUs and integrate multiple functions into a lesser number of control units.
These factors are expected to significantly impact the demand for automotive electronic control units among key players in the market.
An Infographic Representation of Automotive Electronic Control Unit (ECU) Market
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The automotive electronic control unit market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and leading applications of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors above, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market in recent years.
Value (USD Billion) & Volume (Million units)
By Vehicle Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 73.4 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 84.0 billion by 2027.
In 2019, the Asia Pacific market value stood at USD 35.5 billion.
The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.7% and will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).
The passenger car segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
The trend of adopting integrated ECUs is expected to propel market growth.
ZF FRIEDRICHSHAFEN AG is the leading player in the global market.
Asia Pacific dominated the market share in 2019.
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