This report examines existing and emerging automotive passive safety technologies and the market influences that are driving developments in the sector. It also contains market forecasts and company profiles of some of the key suppliers in the sector.
Passive safety systems include vehicle design features and restraint systems that are intended to protect vehicle occupants and pedestrians from injuries during a collision. Body design features include 'crumple
zones' that absorb impact energy and occupant 'safety cells' that are constructed to retain their shape and direct energy around the occupants during a crash. Vehicle frontal design is also increasingly being required to incorporate pedestrian protection features, such as smooth
profiles and deformable panels. Restraint systems include seatbelts and airbags.
The passive safety systems market was launched during the late 1960s with the first seatbelts and crumple zone technologies. The first frontal airbags were launched during the 1980s. Since then, the market has grown to become a US$18bn global industry with future growth
forecast to keep outperforming light vehicle production growth as the technology becomes more sophisticated and installation rates increase.
Early attempts to introduce safer vehicles were largely unsuccessful for several years as consumers avoided acknowledging the darker side of their infatuation with the motor vehicle. However, as public awareness increased concerning the enormous costs that road traffic deaths and
injuries inflict on individuals, families, communities and whole economies, government agencies began introducing regulations requiring vehicle design to include occupant safety technology. Consumer attitudes have now shifted to the degree that safety ratings are among the first factors that prospective purchasers research when seeking a new vehicle.
Along with regulations and consumer demand, market growth in the sector is also driven by technology advances, which now extend to include so-called 'smart' seatbelts and airbags, occupant detection systems, adaptive seats and the integration of restraint technologies with each
other. Furthermore, passive safety system deployment is being integrated with the advanced active systems now coming to market that use sensors to detect an imminent collision.
Alongside this, pedestrian protection is advancing to include bonnet-raising and airbag deployment to reduce the impact forces experienced by a pedestrian - or cyclist - who is struck by a motor vehicle.
Against this, the increasing costs of additional technology introduce something of a barrier as do OEM and supplier concerns regarding legal actions that can be brought when systems fail and consumers are killed or injured as a result. Another significant cost barrier arises from the
considerable R&D investments required to develop new technology.
This, in part, has enabled three of the larger suppliers to establish significant market shares in the sector, although the fast-growing
electronics content in the sector is providing entry points for many smaller, Tier 2 and 3 companies.
Because passive safety technology for heavy commercial vehicles involves a very different set of parameters, the scope of this report has been limited to light passenger vehicles. Also, while child restraint systems are part of the passive safety system sector, apart from the fitment of restraint anchor points by some OEMs, it is essentially an aftermarket industry and is not covered in this report.
The global road crash toll
The effects of passive safety improvements
New Car Assessment Programmes
Fear of litigation
Market dynamics and forecasts
The global market
Passive safety systems technology
Occupant detection systems
Vehicle interior design
Seat safety design
Vehicle body structure
Automatic crash notification systems
Pedestrian safety systems
Integrating safety systems
Integrating seatbelt and airbag functions
Integrating active and passive safety systems
Electronic and electrical systems
Computer-assisted vehicle design
Computer modelling of the human body