In the present market scenario, the demand for HCV axles is co-related to the performance of commercial vehicles across the globe. Though the production of commercial vehicles has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years, their performance in comparison with passenger vehicles has been slightly below par, nonetheless, the momentum attained in the recent years is expected to act as the major driver for the growth of the market. However, it must be noted that a major chunk of the sales revenue of the HCV market will be generated in the economies with high potential for growth in commercial vehicle production.
An axle, by the simplest of definitions, is a shaft positioned at the center of any rotating element. In the case of vehicles, it is the central member that connects two wheels located at the either end. Based on the location of the axle and the drive architecture of a vehicle, its function varies. A drive axle is a hollow axle that houses a shaft within itself to transmit power from the engine to the wheels for traction via the propeller shaft in addition to bearing the weight of a vehicle while non-drive axles are only limited for load bearing purposes. As opposed to axles utilized in four wheeled vehicles, the number of axles in a HCV or heavy commercial vehicle is usually more than two in order to attain optimal load distribution and maneuverability.
An HCV axle, at its core, is a simple shaft connecting two wheels placed at opposite ends; however, the differentiation occurs on the basis of location in a vehicle and its functional attributes. It must be noted that front wheel axles and rear wheel axles can be drive or deal axle, according to where the engine power is transmitted. The following criteria are considered while segmenting the HCV axles market:
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By product type:
- Lift Axle
- Tandem Axle
- Front Wheel Axle
- Rear Wheel Axle
- Full Floating
- Three Quarter Floating
- Semi Floating
- Stub Axle
- Reversed Elliot
- Reversed Lamoine
By heavy commercial vehicle type:
- Straight Trucks (above Class 6)
- Buses & Coaches
- Dump Truck
- Garbage Trucks
- Fire Trucks
By weight carrying capacity:
- Less than 8 Tonnes
- 8-14 Tonnes
- More than 14 Tonnes
By sales channel:
- Original Equipment Manufacturers
- North America
- Latin America
- Western Europe
- Eastern Europe
- South East Asia & Pacific
- Middle East & Africa
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Are E-Axles the Powertrain Solutions of the Future?
It is a well-known fact that the vehicles of the future are expected to run on electrical energy. In 2016 alone, over 1.5 million vehicles were sold, including commercial vehicles, which had some propulsion system driven by electrical energy. In the current market scenario, it is evident that axles of vehicles either receive or do not receive power from the internal combustion engine. However, few players are actively involved in developing solutions to integrate an electrical energy powerhouse directly onto the axles of vehicles in order to boost the power output whenever required. This solution is likely to find application in heavy commercial vehicles as well in the coming years, once electric commercial vehicles are commercialized and gain wider acceptance.
Regional Market Outlook
The dynamics associated with the production of passenger vehicles differ by a notch when compared with those of commercial vehicles. Though passenger vehicles are largely produced in economies where commercial vehicles production is high, not all economies that produce passenger vehicles deal with the production of commercial vehicles. This can lead to a slight logistical hindrance and cost constraints for the manufacturers of HCV axles as they have to deal with supplying axles for the same automaker at different locations.
With reference to the chart presented above, it can be inferred that both China and the U.S. take up a major share in the production of commercial vehicles, including heavy commercial vehicles, along with other type of commercial vehicles. While other economies lag behind in the overall production of commercial vehicles in terms of units per year, a resurgence in the automotive industry of Latin America in recent years following a nosedive in 2016 has propelled an increase in the production of commercial vehicles with the main focus Mexico and Brazil. This spurt in growth can benefit HCV axle manufacturers if potential from the Latin America market can be harnessed.
Global HCV Axles Market: Key Players
The key players involved in the manufacture and distribution of HCV axles are Dana Ltd., Meritor, Inc., American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., Hendrickson USA, L.L.C., Guangdong Fuwa Engineering Group Co., Ltd., Ingersoll Axles, Rába Automotive Holding Plc., BRIST Axle Systems S.R.L., Hyundai Wia Corp. and Sisu Axles Inc.