Over the last decade, the electronic content of new cars has climbed steadily as features like navigation, satellite radio, MP3 and Bluetooth interfaces have become increasingly common, even on mainstream models. However, this year's recession combined with the dramatic slow down in overall sales has, at least temporarily, put the brakes on electronics growth. The market in many regions has shifted toward smaller, less expensive cars and buyers are selecting fewer options.

The average value of electronic control units has jumped from $550 to $650 between 2002 and 2008. If and when the economy recovers, the content is likely to start increasing again, especially as vehicle electrification becomes more prevalent. Not only will the powertrains and batteries need electronics, but the move to systems like electric power steering and air conditioning will also require ECUs.

Eventually, as all of these systems become ubiquitous, the value growth will again slow and then decline as a result of decreased costs of electronics.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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