The emerging market for 42-volt automotive electrical systems stands poised for rapid growth, driven by the need for more sophisticated technology than that used in currently prevalent 14-volt systems, and the benefits of such new systems could drive rapid deployment. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, "Impact of 42-Volt Electrical Systems on North American Automobiles", discusses the likely impact of a transition to higher-voltage systems on alternators, starters, batteries, and electronics. Original-equipment demand for batteries, for example, is projected to rise from 15.3 million in 2002 to 18.1 million in 2008, as vehicles start carrying two batteries. Battery revenues should grow even more strongly because most of the extra demand will be for 36-volt batteries, which are more expensive. 42-volt electrical systems offer significant benefits such as additional onboard electrical applications, enhanced safety through better vehicle handling, improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, and environmental friendliness. These features make them attractive to auto manufacturers, as they strive to deliver greater comfort and convenience to consumers. “Adoption of the 42-volt standard will unleash changes that will impact vehicles over many years as automakers realize more and more possibilities,” says Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst Joerg Dittmer. “This developing market presents several opportunities for both new as well as established participants.” There will be a rising demand for electronic products that can perform novel functions, such as electronic control modules for managing batteries. Since there are no existing manufacturers for such systems, new companies may be able to enter the market more easily than if there were established competitors. “All major suppliers of original-equipment starters, alternators, and batteries are developing products for 42-volt vehicles because they cannot afford to be left behind when this technology catches on,” says Dittmer. “Additionally, suppliers of electronic equipment, power steering systems, brake systems, wire harnesses, connectors, and many other components are working to meet the challenges ahead.” The need to initially retain two electrical systems — 14-volt and 42-volt — will pose a challenge, as this is an expensive proposition. To overcome this and other unresolved technical difficulties, manufacturers must convince automakers of the potential benefits of 42-volt systems and invest substantially in research and development of new technology, which will pave the way for the transition to the 42-volt standard. “Benefits such as better fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions are likely to cause automakers to spread 42-volt technology across their vehicle lines more quickly, especially once costs of components begin to come down,” adds Dittmer.