Crossovers and SUVs fuel production at all-wheel drive suppliers image

The rising demand for sport utility vehicles, trucks and crossovers in Europe or China means the suppliers of all-wheel-drive technology will have more than enough work for the rest of the decade.

For companies such as GKN Driveline, BorgWarner and JTEKT the worldwide deliveries of the two main components (the couplings used in crossovers to jump from fwd to awd on demand and transfer cases in traditional SUVs and pickups) they produce are forecasted to surge by 2 percent each year by 2020, according to researcher Roland Berger. Both Europe and China will take the lion’s share of the growth, according to predictions of the consultancy firm, mostly because the United States already was the land of SUVs and trucks, so there are no surprises there. “There is a clear trend to SUVs, which will replace minivans to a large extent. Most will remain awd,” comments Markus Baum, project manager at Roland Berger. In 2014 the registrations of SUVs and crossovers in Europe jumped 21 percent to at least 2.5 million vehicles, according to figures sourced from JATO Dynamics. That meant one in five automobiles in Europe fell in the category.

Additionally, data from industry association ACEA reveal that 12.2 percent of all vehicles sold on the continent last year had all-wheel drive, rising from 10 percent in 2011, 4.5 percent in 2000 and only 2.3 percent in 1990. The increase is notable since many of today’s SUVs and crossovers also come in bare-bone front wheel drive variants, lowering both price and fuel consumption. Baum believes the suppliers of awd technology will have more work to do because numerous new architectures come with awd pre-installed.

VIa Automotive News Europe