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A front end module is made up of close to 140 parts. They carry out many functions such as assist in safety, enhance aesthetical look, and improve aerodynamic structure and engine cooling. Auto maker’s requirements have rapidly changed in the last few years imposing the suppliers to bring about modular approach in production.
Every front end module manufacturer has employed the modularisation approach where in the whole set-up is one single module and is ready to attached to the vehicle by the OEMs. This has helped the OEMs to reduce the overall cost by 20-30% in the sector. German manufacturer HBPO produces close to 24,000 front-end modules every day.
Plastic Omnium which owns 66% share in HBPO is the leader of market holds almost 20% market share. Plastic Omnium assembles close to 6 million modules every year.
The grill components which occupy majority of area in the front end module and contributes to the aerodynamics heavily. The advent of active grill shutters has increased the share of grill in the market.
These help to reduce the drag. These grills reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and reduce the fuel consumption. This results in CO2 reduction. Top selling cars in US such as Ford F150, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4 are built with active grill shutters. In Europe Ford Focus is equipped with the active shutters.
The radiators in the ICE occupy a larger space and are frontrunners in the market. However, the increase in population of BEVs has led to a dip in radiator demand. Although the in the EVs radiators are present but just for the HVAC and battery cooling which occupy much less space and thus market share among EVs is low.
The incorporation of ADAS in passenger cars is driving the sensors integration in the fascia of the vehicles.
Few of the Mercedes-Benz cars are incorporated with the active bonnet feature where in whenever sensors detect the impact of pedestrians; bonnet is raised to certain height (65 mm) so as to minimize the injury to the pedestrian. More and more adoption of this feature will increase the market growth.
The front-end modules are mostly designed with heavy steel materials. However, in recent past lightweight composite materials like propylene, glass mat thermoplastic, long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) and direct LFT aluminium are used in the manufacturing. Induction of carbon fiber in the Grille Opening Reinforcement (GOR) is witnessed. The injection moulded polyamide 66 and 20% of carbon fiber is a go to material for GOR.
Off late almost every vehicle comes with the chrome coating on the front bumpers and the grills.
In US the front end module market is driven by the need for larger radiators and coolers as the engines in the region is significantly of larger displacement and requires effective cooling. Recently in Indiana, Honda has set up the plant for in-house sub assembly of vehicle’s front end module for the upcoming Honda models.
The Europe market is one of the biggest markets in terms of production plants as major companies are based in Germany and France. The strong move to reduce the pollution which is boosted by vehicle weight reduction is propelling the front end market as they contribute significantly to the weight reduction.
Chinese market home for most number of passenger cars as well as the BEVs will help boost the market because the structure of the front end module varies substantially. Thus the different R&D for these BEV front end modules will propel the Chinese market.
The continuous research for the improvement is going on in the sector. This will boost the market. The advent of pedestrian air bag system will boost the sector.
The rise in autonomous cars will give rise to adoption of much more sensors on the front bumper of the passenger car.
Apart from HBPO (Germany), Calsonic Kansei (Japan) [formerly Magneti Marelli] and Magna International (Canada) the leaders in front end module some of the other manufacturers are Denso (Japan), Valeo (France) and Hyundai Mobis (South Korea).
Currently Hyundai Mobis is manufacturing 3.3 million units per year.
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