Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioners: Added Safety Feature for Frontal Impact

The integration of advanced safety systems has been, and will continue to grow in importance in the automotive industry. Continuous evolutions in regulatory climate have spawned constant developments in the safety features and components of automobiles.

The developments influencing automotive safety landscape in general, and the automotive seat belt pretensioners market in particular, warrant a thorough understanding and unbiased analysis. Transparency Market Research (TMR), in its latest offering, brings to fore credible insights and analysis that can arm stakeholders in this market with the necessary information to take critical decisions with confidence and clarity.  

automotive seat belt pretensioner strategy

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Seat Belts and Pretensioners: The Journey to Near-Ubiquity

Automotive seat belt pretensioners, now nearing ubiquity, have come a long way since being initially proposed for military aircrafts in the 1950s. Global sales totaled US$ 4 billion in 2018, and the number of players vying for a pie of this lucrative market continues to increase with each passing year. As seatbelts have now become a standard, the focus has shifted to developing sturdy materials and broader integration with other components. Pretensioner manufacturers’ capabilities have been put to test, as engine size and horsepower continues to increase. As automobile safety regulations gain prominence, especially in countries where implementation has been lax, component manufacturers should be looking at a period of sustained demand.

Impact of Undercurrents on Market Trends

OEMs are focusing on increasing the integration of automotive seat belt pretensioners in light commercial vehicles, as this category has witnessed steady sales in recent years. In addition, product development and innovation strategies are highly influenced by the need for automotive seat belt pretensioners to enhance the belt effectiveness in vehicles and prevent injuries that can be caused by frontal impacts.

With governments across the globe implementing laws on seat belt use that align with the best practices, and expanding these laws to back seat occupants as well, product penetration--as far as rear seats are concerned—is likely to grow. TMR’s study finds that implementation of effective measures to safeguard vehicle occupants from injury in the event of a crash, and increasing support towards seat-belt programs and policies will create potential business opportunities for the manufacturers of automotive seat belt pretensioners.

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Retractor: The Technology of Choice

Seat belt pretensioners used in combination with retractors account for higher demand as compared to buckles and anchors. Usually mounted on the B pillar of the vehicle, retractor seat belt pretensioners have witnessed higher investment and innovation. As nearly 7 in 10 automotive seat belt pretensioners sold in the market are based on retractor technology, manufacturers have specifically focused on this category.

Considering the broader evolutions in the automotive sector, seal belt pretensioner manufacturers have also been forced to innovate. The focus has mainly shifted to providing customized solutions, as the sheer range and variation in model types, has made it challenging to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.

Innovation has also been forthcoming for combining the active and passive safety in vehicles. As retractor technology continues to be pervasive, manufacturers are wary of spending on R&D in other technologies. These factors played a significant role in ZF Friedrichshafen’s decision to commence with volume production of its next-gen Active Control Retractor – the ACR8 in 2018. Considering the centralization of technology in new automobiles, ZF Friedrichshafen offered a greater degree of flexibility in its offering. The ACR8 can work in conjunction with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and evasive steering assist (ESA). This strategic move by the company is likely to set the ball rolling, as other stakeholders are likely to full suit and invest in refractor technology.

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The Competitive Landscape

The automotive seat belt pretensioner market shows a high level of consolidation. Autoliv Inc., ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Joyson Safety Systems, TOKAIRIKA, CO, LTD, DENSO Corporation, Seatbelt Solutions LLC, and Continental AG collectively account for a revenue share of nearly 61% of the market.

Considering the nature of the product, low-cost continues to be an influencing factor, and to stay competitive, many of these leading players have manufacturing plants in countries where operating costs are relatively low. The emergence of developing countries, such as China and India, as the world’s largest automotive markets, has also led to realignment of strategies. Leading automotive seat belt pretensioners market players are not only looking at these countries from a manufacturing perspective, but also through a target market perspective. Many leading players, in the recent past, have made concerted efforts to strengthen their distribution networks to boost sales of pretensioners and other components in China and India.

automotive seat belt pretensioner market asia pacific landscape

Collaborating with research institutes and ombudsmen to understand the challenges in designing efficient safety systems also remains a key focus area for manufacturers. For instance, Autoliv, Inc., one of the leading players in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market, joined the ambitious European H2020 research project OSCCAR to understand the evolving safety needs of the future and develop effective systems that can enable this.

The business strategies of other key players in this market are also closely aligned with the prevailing status-quo in the landscape. As strong networks with stakeholders across the value chain hold preeminence, a number of players are showing a palpable duality in their approach—in addition to acquiring modern equipment, these companies are working on establishing symbiotic relationships with other stakeholders. It is highly likely that companies such as Far Europe Inc., Berger Group, Goradia Industries, GWR Co., Australian Performance Vehicles Pty Ltd., Beam’s Seatbelts, and Belt-tech will continue to work on strengthening their collaboration with OEMs and other stakeholders during the course of the forecast period.

automotive seat belt pretentioner segmentation

The Analyst Viewpoint

Report authors maintain a positive outlook on the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. As relaxed seating positions and rotating seats become the standard in the highly automated vehicle of tomorrow, manufacturers will need to brainstorm and come up with solutions that can be easily integrated. It will be an understatement to say that China and India will remain central to the broader growth in this market. Therefore, those manufacturers that continue to show a higher risk-appetite and invest in expanding their distribution channels in these countries, are likely to be rewarded in the long run.

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Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market - Key Insights

  • The automotive seat belt pretensioner market is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of more than 5% during the period 2019 to 2027.
  • The retractor pretensioner is one of the major segments in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market, and is anticipated to hold around 70% share of the automotive pretensioner market in the coming years.
  • Front seats are preferred for the integration of automotive seat belt pretensioners to reduce the impact of the collision on them.
  • Automotive seat belt pretensioners have very high penetration among premium segment vehicles; moreover, premium vehicles have automotive seat belt pretensioners installed even on the rear seats.

Growth Drivers for the Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market

Automotive seat belt pretensioners are installed in automotive seat belts to remove excess slack almost instantly upon sensing the sudden deceleration of the vehicle, typically by firing a pyrotechnic device that assists in holding the occupant in position, and prevents the person from banging the dashboard or the front seat of the vehicle. Initially, automotive seat belt pretensioners were installed only in premium vehicles; however, the usage of automotive seat belt pretensioners has increased over a period of time.

  • Increase in the demand for safety systems in vehicles has led to the development of advanced technology seat belts. Increasing stringency of safety standards are driving the automotive seat belt market, which, in turn, is likely to boost the market for automotive seat belt pretensioners.
  • Rise in per capita income in developing countries has led to the emergence of several first-time consumers, thus spurring vehicle production. This, in turn, is fueling the demand for automotive seat belt pretensioners.
  • Government initiatives in India and China to boost vehicle production in these countries are driving the seat belt market in Asia Pacific.
  • The growing automotive industry in ASEAN is projected to boost the automotive seat belt pretensioner market in this sub-region. Increase in the demand for occupant safety is a primary driver for the automotive seat belt pretensioner market.
  • Increasing usage of active safety features in modern vehicles to enhance the safety of passengers, and continuous developments in the field of safety equipment carried out by major manufacturers such as Autoliv, Inc. and ZF Friedrichshafen AG are anticipated to propel the market for automotive seat belt pretensioners during the forecast period.

Challenges for the Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market

  • Wearing seat belts regularly has caused the appearance of rashes on some occupants, which, in turn, is discouraging a section of the population from utilizing seat belts.
  • Automotive seat belt pretensioners are not replaced individually; instead, they require the replacement of the complete seat belt system when a malfunction occurs.
  • The high cost of automotive seat belt pretensioners has led to the high usage of seat belts without automotive seat belt pretensioners for the rear seats.

The global automotive seat belts pretensioner market has been segmented based on technology, seat, vehicle type, and region.

Based on technology, the retractor segment holds a substantial share of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. The preference of manufacturers to install pretensioners in combination with retractors has propelled the retractor technology segment, as automotive seat belt pretensioners installed with retractors possess higher force to restrain the occupant in the seat in case of a collision or sudden deceleration. The anchor is the least preferred technology among all, thus holding the smallest share in the market.

Based on seat, the front seat segment is likely to be a prominent automotive seat belt pretensioner market share holder, due to the higher penetration of automotive seat belt pretensioners in front seats, since during a collision, the impact is higher on the driver and co-driver seats. Thus, in order to minimize the effect of an impact, automotive seat belt pretensioners are installed in front seats. However, some vehicles are equipped with automotive seat belt pretensioners in both, the front as well as rear seats, to enhance the safety factor of the vehicle.

In terms of vehicle, the passenger vehicles segment accounts for a notable share of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market, owing to the significantly high production of passenger vehicles as compared to commercial vehicles. Moreover, a higher number of seat belts are integrated in passenger vehicles as compared to commercial vehicles, which, in turn, has propelled the passenger vehicles segment in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. Active technology seat belts are mostly employed in passenger vehicles.

Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market: Regional Analysis

In terms of region, Asia Pacific is a prominent region in the global automotive seat belt pretensioner market, due to the high production capabilities of China, India, South Korea, and Japan. The automotive seat belt pretensioner markets in countries in Asia Pacific and Latin America, such as India, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, are expected to expand at notable growth rates during the forecast period, due to the rising demand for vehicles in these regions.

The increasing penetration of automotive seat belt pretensioners in the Asia Pacific region, owing to the rising production of premium vehicles that are equipped with a higher number of automotive seat belt pretensioners in the seat belt systems is expected to be a key driver for the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. Europe holds a significant share in the global automotive seat belt pretensioner market, as the region is home to a large number of vehicles with active seat belt pretensioners as compared to other regions.

Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market: Competitive Landscape

Key market players operating in the global automotive seat belt pretensioner market include APV Safety Products, Autoliv Inc., Belt-tech, BERGER GROUP, Continental AG, DENSO Corporation., Far Europe Inc., Goradia Industries, GWR Co., Joyson Safety Systems, Robert Bosch GmBH, Seatbelt Solutions LLC, TOKAIRIKA,CO, LTD, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

Autoliv, Inc. and ZF Friedrichshafen AG are at the forefront in the development of seat belt systems. In 2013, TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., which has now been acquired by ZF Friedrichshafen AG showcased SPR4, a next gen automotive seat belt retractor pretensioner that uses a plastic piston instead of conventional metal components to transfer tensioning torque, resulting in a simpler and lighter weight design, as well as more compact packaging.

A recent study published by Transparency Market Research (TMR) outlines the impact of wide-ranging factors on the growth of the global automotive seat belt pretensioner market. The study offers key insights into the latest trends and prevailing business opportunities for key stakeholders for the period of 2019 and 2027.

The report help readers gauge the various dynamics of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market, lined with all-inclusive insights that can aid industry participants make well-informed decisions over the forecast period. It also provides a thorough analysis to determine the key growth prospects of the market, and forecast statistics regarding the growth of the automotive seat belt pretensioners market in terms of value (US$ million) and volume (million units).

Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market: Segmentation

The study on the automotive seat belt pretensioner market is classified into four broader segments – technology, seat, vehicle type, and region. The report includes a thorough assessment of the dynamics and changing trends of each segment, and also how they impact the development of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market.

Technology

Seat

Vehicle Type

Region

Retractors

Front Seat

Passenger Vehicles

North America

Buckles

Rear Seat

  • Hatchbacks

Latin America

Anchors

 

  • Sedans

Europe

 

 

  • Utility Vehicles

Asia Pacific

 

 

Light Commercial Vehicles

Middle East & Pacific

 

 

Heavy Duty Vehicles

 

The report provides comprehensive data on the segment-wise trends of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. Specific information of individual segments includes y-o-y growth analysis, pricing analysis, market value share analysis, and supply chain analysis of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market across key regions.

Important Questions Answered in the Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market Report

Analyzing the nodes and internodes shaping market growth, TMR brings out actionable intelligence of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. The author of the report studied the market and cautiously estimated the future development of the market for the period of 2019-2027. Comprehensive information covered in the report can provide answers to a list of questions for key industry participants, in order to gain incisive knowledge about the market. Some of these questions include:

  • What are the recent developments in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market in term of regulations, innovations, and acquisitions?
  • What are the success strategies adopted by key manufacturers that are helping them acquire a leading position in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market?
  • How will past and present growth prospects of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market impact the future developments?
  • What are the latest trends in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market influencing a change in product development?
  • What are the new technological advances that will revolutionize the automotive seat belt pretensioner market?
  • What strategies will market players adopt to enhance their global expansion in the automotive seat belt pretensioner market?

Automotive Seat Belt Pretensioner Market: Research Methodology

To obtain all-inclusive information about the developments in the automotive seat belt pretensioner industry, a thorough market research has been conducted. By studying the industry-validated information gathered through and verified by primary and secondary resources, analysts could offer exclusive insights on how the automotive seat belt pretensioner market will grow and expand during the forecast period.

Analysts have interviewed OEMs, presidents, vice presidents, CEOs, directors, project managers, and marketing managers from various companies involved in the supply chain of automotive seat belt pretensioners, along industry experts and key investors, and the information has been systematized in the report as a primary resource.

The extensive insights obtained from primary sources serve as a validation from market experts, making TMR’s forecast on the future prospects of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market more precise and reliable. Around 55% of the primary respondents included the chief regional officers of key players, local seat belt system manufacturers, and seat belt system dealers.

Secondary research for the development of the report involves studying government policies and regulations lined with white papers and research publications that help indicate the growth potential of the automotive seat belt pretensioner market. Some of the secondary resources include the International Journal of Automotive Technology, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Center for Automotive Research, Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), Journal of Automobile Engineering and Applications, OICA, SIAM, CAAM, ANFAVEA, ACEA, and others.

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