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The worldwide medium-voltage motor drives market was estimated to be worth USD2,175m (GBP1,428m) in 2008, according to IMS Research.

This value represents an increase of more than 35 per cent over 2007 levels, with much of the growth attributed to the thriving Chinese market.

The economic downturn that began in the second half of 2008 and lasted well into 2009 has had a substantial impact on the medium-voltage drives market.

IMS Research believes that total market revenues grew by only 0.7 per cent in 2009, resulting in an estimated market size of USD2,191.3m (GBP1,439m) during the year.

Unit shipments were affected to a lesser extent, increasing by 3.2 per cent over 2008 levels.

The full effects of the downturn are expected to impact the market in 2010, when revenues are projected to fall by 16.2 per cent and unit shipments are forecast to decline by 10.9 per cent.

The delayed effects are attributed to significant lag between bookings and billings, which resulted from order backlogs prior to the recession and long production times for these complex and technically advanced drives.

The market contraction forecast for 2010 is caused by severe order declines in 2009, particularly in the metals, mining, marine and cement industries.

Together, these four sectors accounted for more than half of all medium-voltage drive revenues in 2008.

Sales to the power generation and water and wastewater industries are the only ones forecast to grow in 2009 and 2010, driven by population growth, increased urbanisation, and infrastructure expansion in developing regions.

China is now the largest regional market for medium-voltage drives, accounting for an estimated 43 per cent of total revenues and 58 per cent of total unit shipments in 2009.

Growth of the Chinese market has been good over the past few years and, while it is expected to slow substantially in the future, the market is still projected to grow by an average annual rate of more than 13 per cent from 2008 to 2013.

The average selling prices of medium-voltage drives in China are much lower than the global average because of intense price competition and the prevalence of drives with lower power ratings.

The US and Western European medium-voltage motor drive markets respectively represent approximately 14 and nine per cent of total revenues in 2009.

These regional markets are projected to contract by more than 35 per cent in 2010, as heavy declines in the regions’ industrial sectors result in much lower demand for medium-voltage drives.

Although the markets are expected to return to double-digit growth by 2011, they are not expected to recover to their 2008 levels until after 2013.

Average selling prices are projected to decline by approximately three per cent per year in the US and 3.8 per cent in Western Europe.

The leading suppliers to the worldwide medium-voltage motor drives market were largely unchanged in 2009.

Siemens is once again the market leader with 26.5 per cent of total revenues, while ABB is second with a share of 20.0 per cent and Converteam is third with 13.5 per cent of the global market.

All other suppliers had shares of less than seven per cent during the year.

Two Chinese vendors, LD Harvest and Hiconics, with respective global market shares of 6.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent in 2009, reflect the recent rise of Chinese manufacturers and the rapid growth witnessed by the market in the country.

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