Safety concerns boost use of electric power steering in commercial vehicles

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An increased focus on safety will mean half of European light and medium commercial vehicles will be fitted with electric power steering by 2021, research from Frost & Sullivan has found.

Steering electrification serves as a springboard for the provision of a whole array of safety and driver assistance functionalities such as lane keeping assist, lane centring assist and active cruise control.

Frost & Sullivan says that with added impetus from environmental regulations, it is only a matter of time before electrically actuated power steering becomes a standard feature in LCVs and MCVs.

Its Strategic Insight of Electrically Actuated Power Steering for Light and Medium Commercial Vehicles in Europe report finds that the steering electrification market for LCVs and MCVs is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 13.5% from 2014 to 2021.

The installed base is likely to surpass one million as early as 2018.

With the enforcement of several retrospective bans, such as the one in France on diesel-propelled vehicles, electrifying the steering system to reduce emissions is one of the foremost researched areas in the commercial vehicle industry.

“As cities across Europe deploy pollution control strategies, fleet managers are looking to operate ancillary systems under fully electric or hybrid power systems,” said Manish Menon, intelligent mobility research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“Keeping pace with these trends, leading vehicle manufacturers such as Daimler and Volkswagen are already incorporating electrically actuated power steering solutions in select LCV models.”

For MCVs, fully electrified steering is out of the question, at least for now, due to the vehicles’ heavier front axle loads.

Nevertheless, mass market suppliers will push for partial electric assist in key MCV models.

By 2021, one in two LCVs and MCVs are expected to be fitted with either a fully or partially electrified system. In vehicles still using standard hydraulic systems, fleet managers are likely to retrofit plug-and-play electrified steering add-on modules in large numbers.

“Plug-and-play modules provide benefits similar to partially electrified steering solutions,” said Menon.

“Despite higher costs, add-on modules offer considerable value by enabling better integration of comfort and safety features than hydraulic solutions.”

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