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According to statistics from IMS Research, the worldwide market for low-voltage AC and DC motor drives grew in 2008, with revenues increasing by approximately 14.6 per cent over 2007 levels.

Data reported by leading motor-drive suppliers indicates positive growth through the third quarter of 2008 was fuelled by key industry sectors such as oil and gas, mining and commercial HVAC.

IMS Research estimates that total worldwide revenues for the motor-drives market were nearly USD11bn in 2008, with more than 15 million drive units shipped during the year.

Starting in the fourth quarter of 2008 and continuing through 2009, many segments of the market slowed significantly due to the global recession.

As a result, the worldwide market for motor drives is forecast to contract by nearly 15.9 per cent in 2009 in terms of revenues, before returning to positive growth in 2010.

There are several reasons behind the contraction in 2009, including declines in regional GDP and significant contractions in machinery production levels.

Ongoing problems with capital lending are also expected to contribute to the decline of the market in 2009.

Due to the heavy concentration of machine builders in Western Europe, the EMEA motor-drives market remains the largest regional market, accounting for nearly 45 per cent of total market revenues in 2008.

The full effects of the economic downturn in the EMEA region were delayed until the first quarter of the year, resulting in a projected market contraction of 25.2 per cent in 2009.

The Americas region, accounting for more than 20 per cent of total market revenues in 2008, also represents a sizeable percentage of the global motor-drives market.

The Americas drives market is forecast to contract by 19.2 per cent in revenue terms in 2009, as the earlier impacts of the downturn in the region are predicted to result in a faster recovery than in the EMEA drives market.

The Japanese drives market is projected to be impacted the most severely, due to global economic conditions, and revenues are forecast to decrease by approximately 27.1 per cent in 2009.

This steep decline is attributed to a large decrease in the industrial machinery exports that utilise the majority of the motor drives sold in the region.

The bright spot of the market remains Asia Pacific, where the drives market is expected to harbour positive growth throughout the downturn.

Continued demand from the booming Chinese market elicited by sustained positive GDP growth is predicted to result in a 2.9 per cent revenue growth during 2009 for the entire Asia Pacific drives market.

The global economic slowdown is forecast to have varying levels of effect, impacting some industries more than others.

Smaller declines experienced by the renewable energy, food, beverage and tobacco, and commercial HVAC sectors are expected to help offset significant decreases in the semiconductor, shipbuilding and marine, and machine-tool industries.

According to Jenalea Howell, IMS research analyst: ‘There are two distinct tiers of industries that have been affected by the economic downturn.

‘Industry sectors that have links to population growth and increased urbanisation, such as food, beverage and tobacco, and utilities, have held up relatively well during the recession, while those tied to machine building have suffered greatly.’

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