The automotive transfer case is a unit of gears that distributes the power between front and rear axle of an all-wheel drive (AWD) or a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. In the all-wheel drive mode, the transfer case distributes torque among all the four wheels of a vehicle and if one wheel loses traction, higher torque goes to the wheel with less traction. The transfer case is made of cast iron or cast aluminum body and consist of a planetary gear unit.
Shift in consumer preference toward high clearance vehicles is fueling the demand for all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles such as SUVs and crossovers, thus boosting the demand for automotive transfer case. SUVs accounted for 42% of total vehicle sales in the U.S. and 26% of total vehicle sales in Europe in 2017. Rising preference for powerful and high clearance vehicle is projected to boost the automotive transfer case market. All-wheel and four-wheel drive applications have become essential in commercial vehicles as they assist while driving in off-terrain environments and improve vehicle stability. Rise in demand for commercial vehicles and increase in affordability of advanced systems in developing countries such as China, Brazil, India, and Mexico are expected to boost the automotive transfer case market in these countries. The transfer case improve traction and helps regain vehicle control. Moreover, it aids in improvising vehicle safety and hence, the demand for transfer case has risen. AWD and 4WD systems have become an imperative part of superior driving experience. Integration of electronics and software to aid the shifting mechanism from low to high speed has improved the function of the automotive transfer case, which in turn is boosting its adoption in passenger vehicles. GKN plc has integrated software to sync the transfer case transmission with other sub-systems, such as anti-lock braking system & electronic stability control, to intelligently control the vehicle and improve vehicle ride.
Transfer cases are not utilized in two-wheel drive vehicles. The automotive transfer case witnesses low penetration in two-wheel drive vehicles such as entry level segments, hatch backs, and compact vehicles, thus acting as a restraining factor.
The global automotive transfer case market can be segmented based on transfer case type, vehicle type, drive, casing material, sales channel, and region. In terms of transfer case type, the automotive transfer case market can be classified into part-time 4WD, full-time 4WD, and active 4WD.The active 4WD segment is expected to expand as the 4WD transfer case has smooth operation due to usage of electronics and less input from the driver.
Based on vehicle type, the automotive transfer case market can be bifurcated into passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle. The passenger vehicle segment is expected to dominate the global automotive transfer case market due to its high rate of adoption in passenger vehicles owing to higher consumer demand.
Based on drive, the automotive transfer case market can be segregated into chain and gear. The chain segment is anticipated to expand in the near future, as this type of drive transfer case facilitates smooth operation, as compared to gear drive, and is more durable.
In terms of casing material, the automotive transfer case market can be split into cast iron and cast aluminum. The cast aluminum transfer case is expected to expand during the forecast period owing to its weight.
Based on region, the global automotive transfer case market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Europe and North America has a high presence of AWD & 4WD vehicles; however, the market in Asia Pacific is expected to expand at a higher growth rate during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global automotive transfer case market include GKN plc, ZF Friedrichshafen, Magna International, BorgWarner, and Schaeffler AG.
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