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Global sales of AC motors `will double by 2014`

17 January, 2011

Revenues from the global market for low-voltage integral horsepower AC motors will more than double to $19.4bn by 2014, compared to 2009, when the global market was estimated to have shrunk by more than 20% because of the recession. This forecast comes from the market analyst IMS Research which also predicts that unit shipments will grow at double-digit rates, to reach 51.6 million motors by 2014.

A key factor driving this growth will be regional legislation mandating the use of more efficient – and thus more expensive – motors. This is expected to boost sales of IE3 premium-efficiency motors by more than 900% this year.

According to IMS, a marked shift has occurred in the low-voltage AC motor industry over the past 10 years. “We are starting to see how government directives for improved motor efficiencies have resulted in levelling the playing field for motor manufacturers,” says IMS analyst Mark Meza.

“A supplier’s proprietary technical innovation for efficiency improvements has been supplanted by government directives requiring all motor manufacturers to meet the same efficiency requirements,” he adds. “While this might seem like it diminishes a manufacturer’s competitive advantage in the motor marketplace, all industries will benefit greatly from improved motor efficiency leading to a significant reduction in energy costs, which is the prime objective of the legislation.”

The US and Canada currently lead the world in motor efficiency standards, with a major transition to IE3 premium efficiency motors at the end of 2010. As a result, motors sold in North America will be more expensive than in the past, with IE3 motors having average selling prices more than double those of IE1 standard-efficiency motors.

IMS estimates that revenues from IE3 motors will soar by 914% in 2011. It expects the market to be dominated by American motor manufacturers until 2015, at least. At this time, EU member states will start to move to IE3, and IMS expects manufacturers such as ABB and Siemens to lead the charge in this region.

However, it predicts that the IE2 high-efficiency market segment (roughly equivalent to the former Eff1 category) will still command the lion’s share of revenues until 2017 and beyond.

“The impact of China’s influence in the motor market should not be under-estimated,” Meza comments. Chinese users will have to move to IE2 motors in July of this year.

“By 2014, the IE2 market is expected to account for 57% of global low-voltage AC motor revenues, with the large majority of that sum being accounted for by China,” he predicts. He also expects China to become the leading producer and consumer of squirrel-cage permanent magnet (PM) motors. The country has significant advantages in the rare-earth mineral market, and has been the first to legislate rebates for using low-voltage PM AC motors.

As well as moving towards higher-efficiency motors, global production of IE1 motors is expected to shift heavily towards Asian manufacturers.

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