European brake component market: varying consumer preferences will test manufacturers' flexibility

Mature European markets are currently experiencing a shift in preference towards brake pad and disc technology. Conversely, drum and shoe systems remain popular in less developed regions such as Eastern Europe. Producers of brake parts need to remain alert to changes in the brake systems desired by motorists.

Due to the recent economic instability that has been felt throughout most of Europe, people are more carefully considering the cost implications of running a vehicle, particularly with regards to where savings can be made. As a result, motorists are looking at their cars as a long-term financial investment, and there is a resulting trend towards switching to smaller vehicles so as to benefit from improved efficiency.

Such behavior will lead to older cars being removed from usage, thus taking their older brake technologies of shoes and drums with them. The aftermarket for these components will be affected in that there will naturally be less demand. It is forecasted that the brake shoe and drum markets in the leading five countries will have contracted by around 8% each by 2015. That said, this will largely be offset by an anticipated rise in the need for brake pads and discs to replace them.

Manufacturers will start to see geographical hotbeds emerging depending on the parts they produce as the car parc age in different countries changes and preferences for different brake systems evolve. This will aid manufacturers of each brake part type in that they will be able to better focus production and supply on the markets that use their components.

Alternatively, those who supply markets where demand for their components is dwindling, such as drums and shoes, could consider product diversification should they wish to continue their presence in these countries. In addition, brake pad and disc manufacturers would need to address any challenges surrounding increased production capacity in anticipation of higher sales volumes.

Until technology develops further still in terms of the potential introduction of electronic vehicles, there will continue to be a need for hydraulic brake systems of one sort or another. It is just that producers will need to be mindful of changes in consumer preferences in order to keep up with the evolution of brake components in different markets.