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The Growing Market for Silicon Powertrain Sensors

John Day

John Day

Posted Dec 27, 2013

The research firm IHS attributes much of the growth in the silicon powertrain sensors market to the need for emissions reduction worldwide. Stricter emission standards in the United States and Europe are projected to drive the market forward, according to a new IHS report.

The global market for powertrain silicon sensors is expected to reach $1.03 billion in 2013, an increase of 7% from $964.5 million in 2012. IHS predicts that the market will grow at rates ranging from 5 to 7 percent in the next four years and will reach $1.28 billion by 2017.

“Although vehicles today produce considerably less pollution than 20 years ago, significant advancements continue to be made by car manufacturers in engine-out emissions and exhaust after-treatment technologies,” says Richard Dixon, IHS senior principal analyst for MEMS & sensors.

“These improvements have been carried out as a result of mandated legislation in areas like the U.S., Japan and Western Europe, aimed at lowering carbon emissions in vehicles to help reduce global warming.”

While emission-reduction systems are used on all types of vehicles in mature markets, Dixon notes that legislation is especially targeting diesel engines, which make up 50 percent of the European market.

The high fuel efficiency of diesel engines explains their popularity, but diesel engines also require the most treatment due to a combination of poisonous nitrogen oxide gases and particle matter (soot) produced during the combustion process.

Methods to reduce these pollutants, like cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particle filters, and selective catalytic reduction systems, require sensors for control and also to monitor their performance, according to Dixon.

Stop-start systems and gasoline particle filters (GPFs) can also help meet tougher emission control standards.

Stop-start systems use a combination of wheel-speed sensors to ascertain if the vehicle has stopped, and switches that determine if the clutch or brake has been actuated and the gear is in neutral position. Pressure sensors measure the vacuum generated in the braking system under a stopped engine condition, and a current sensor is used to determine if the battery condition is sufficient to handle the restart of the car.

GPFs are effective at removing soot particles from a gasoline direct-injection engine in the same manner as a filter in a diesel engine.

Other sensors used to help reduce emissions include in-cylinder pressure sensors, oil pressure sensors and evaporative fuel sensors. Overall, sensors are critical to emissions reduction and fuel economy – the two most significant drivers of automotive technology.

gasoline direct-injection engine, gasoline particle filters, diesel engine, stop-start system, IHS, silicon powertrain sensors

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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