The domestic market for gears and gear assemblies is forecast to increase 3.9% per year to $30.1 billion in 2013 according to a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm. This will be a considerable improvement from the less than 1% annual growth posted during 2003 to 2008. According to analysts, gains will be supported primarily by rebounding levels of motor vehicle production. In 2008, more than three-quarters of all gear sales were motor vehicle related, despite unusually low levels of production.

Gear manufacturers will also benefit from gains derived from product improvements and upgrades, such as transmissions with higher numbers of speeds. Increased sales opportunities will also come from the relatively small but rapidly expanding wind turbine market, in which large, high-value gearboxes are required. Output in the aerospace equipment and machinery industries is also expected to advance modestly from its level a decade earlier, which will restrain gear demand in those markets to some degree. These and other trends are presented in the new Gears study.

The motor vehicle market for gears and gear assemblies is forecast to experience the fastest gains of any market through 2013, advancing 4.7% per year to $23.8 billion. Trends within the automotive industry will also support increased sales of higher-value gear products, as transmissions will generally feature more speeds, power accessories will require additional gear motors, and more cars will feature four-wheel-drive systems, which require the use of differentials. Transfer case sales will also be boosted by strong growth in medium and heavy vehicle production. However, several emerging trends in the automotive industry will limit gear demand increases. Continuously variable transmissions, which do not require gears, are rapidly gaining a foothold in the automobile segment of the industry. Further, while not an immediate threat, steer-by-wire technology could eventually limit the use of gears in steering assemblies.

Within the individual gear category, helical and bevel gears are forecast to see the strongest gains. Helical gears will continue to displace spur gears in a number of applications, while bevel gear manufacturers are expected to take advantage of high-value sales opportunities in the aerospace market. OEM applications, which accounted for nearly 70% of all gear sales in 2008, will outpace aftermarket demand increases through 2013 as motor vehicle manufacturing recovers. Gears, published in January, is available for $4,700. For more information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.