to grow in the next few years,” said
LeAnn Fisher, director of components
research at PSR.
The growing acceptance of start/stop
applications in the U.S. also is helping
drive the demand for AGM technology.
Johnson Controls, a global supplier of
automotive batteries, said that 40%
of new cars built in the U.S. by 2016
could require AGM batteries and it is
developing the capacity to manufacture
6 million AGM units a year.
Start/stop technology is much more
common in Europe, and Honda has
been using it in its small PCX 125 cc
scooter for years. More recently, start/
stop systems have also made their
initial inroads into heavy-duty, off-highway machines, which indicates
the broad applicability of the concept.
More Chinese Engines. PSR expects more Chinese engines to appear
in American-made lawn and garden
equipment, especially snowblowers.
Other examples include commercial
mowers, utility vehicles and tillers.
Some of the biggest suppliers are
likely to be LCT (Liquid Combustion
Technology), a South Carolina company that manufactures its engines in
China and took over the Tecumseh
small-engine business. Similar manufacturers include Loncin and Zongshen
Power Machine Co. Ltd.
These engines are liable to be seen
in nearly every snowblower, except
Honda. Even some U.S.-branded
engines are now being made almost
exclusively in China, and it’s a trend
that is likely to continue.
More M&A Activity. Many major
companies have plenty of cash on
their balance sheets. Look for them to
spend some of it in 2015 on acquisitions and/or continue to buy back their
own stock, until they spot an opportunity. Companies worth watching
include Polaris (which in November
acquired the key assets of a significant manufacturer of accessories
for side-by-side [SxS] vehicles),
Cummins and Caterpillar.
Cummins Keeps Growing. Don’t
be at all surprised if Cummins continues to keep up the pace in 2015. The
company’s stock price continues to
climb and its vertical integration makes
it a tough competitor. The company
earned $1.3 billion on revenues of
$14.1 billion for the first nine months of
The possibility of increased
roadbuilding and construction could serve as a boost
to Caterpillar, Power Systems
Production of generator sets below 18 k W, such as this Kohler gasoline-powered unit,
is expected to increase in 2015, according to Power Systems Research.