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European small motor sales `will hit $1.8bn by 2016`

08 October, 2010

The European market for fractional horsepower (FHP) motors was worth $1.45bn in 2009 and will climb to $1.82bn by 2016, driven by rising energy prices and an increasing awareness about energy efficiency among end-users and OEMs. A new report from the market analyst Frost & Sullivan says that polyphase motors with inverters are gaining market share from less efficient single-phase motors.

“OEMs and end-users are replacing standard, low-efficiency shaded-pole and permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors with polyphase AC FHP motors,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst, Sahitya Yerramreddy. “Further, declining inverter prices along with advances in power electronics are spurring the adoption rate of polyphase AC FHP motors.”

Although the market for AC FHP motors was hit by the financial crisis, Frost expects demand to recover, driven partly by re-initiated projects in the recovering economies in Europe and by increased investments in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

“A major shift towards energy-efficient products and integrated motor-drive solutions will boost demand for AC FHP motors in Europe over the next seven years,” predicts Yerramreddy. “With the global economy showing signs of recovery and enhanced industrial and consumer confidence, expansion projects are expected to be re-initiated in all the major end-user segments, thereby enhancing growth prospects for AC FHP motor manufacturers.”

Because the AC FHP motor market is price-sensitive, motor manufacturers are trying to differentiate themselves by offering integrated solutions and value-added services, says Frost.

The emergence of alternative technologies is posing a challenge to sales of traditional FHP motors. For instance, there is a trend to replace AC induction motors, such as shaded-pole motors, by brushless DC (BLDC) motors, in the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration, domestic appliance and business equipment segments.

To counter increasing raw material prices, FHP motor manufacturers are looking for lower-cost alternatives. BLDC motors use about 60% of the copper in an AC induction FHP motor and are more efficient. Additionally, BLDC motors use permanent magnets and electronic commutation, thus cutting electricity costs by one-third to one-half, compared to AC induction FHP motors, according to Frost.

Another trend is the shift of motor production to lower-cost economies. “Many AC FHP manufacturers are shifting their manufacturing bases from Western Europe to CEE to reduce their production costs by leveraging the low-cost labour advantage, and to cater to the increased automation needs of the CEE countries,” Yerramreddy remarks. “Further, heavy investments being made in infrastructure, expansion of industrial and production bases and other discrete industries, where FHP motors are an integral part, are luring AC FHP motor manufacturers.”

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