DETROIT – The navigation systems market is in for modest growth over the next four years, forecaster CSM Worldwide says.

Original equipment installation rates will rise in North America and Europe, but at a fairly slow rate, Bill Rinna, CSM’s manager-North American supply chain and technology forecasting, says during a presentation on navigation system trends at the 2007 Ward’s Auto Interiors Show here.

Japan, meanwhile, will continue to be the leader in OE applications by a wide margin, he predicts.

Of the 41.5 million vehicles expected to be sold in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Korea this year, about 5.5 million will have navigation systems onboard, Rinna says.

In North America, about 9% of the vehicles sold in 2011 will feature the devices, CSM forecasts, up from an estimated 6% this year. Among auto makers in the region, General Motors Corp. is on the fastest growth track.

“They’ll increase by 500,000 units by 2011,” Rinna says of the number of vehicles GM will sell with navigation systems. He points to the new Theta cross/utility vehicle platform that underpins the new Saturn Vue and upcoming Zeta rear-drive car architecture that will spawn the new Chevrolet Camaro as chief drivers of that growth.

The new GMT900 fullsize pickup and SUV platform also is contributing to the gain. “The old GMT800s (that the GMT900s replaced) did not offer navigation systems,” he points out.

Key suppliers in North America include Denso Corp. and Alpine Electronics Inc., each with 24% of the market. Denso supplies Ford Motor Co., GM and Toyota Motor Corp., while Alpine provides systems to Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

Harman/Becker Automotive Systems GmbH controls about 21% of the sector, supplying navigation systems for Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

CSM sees European installations also increasing by three percentage points, from about 11% of the market now to 14% by 2011. About 20% of BMW AG vehicles are built with navigation systems, compared with about 24% for Mercedes-Chrysler and 11% for Volkswagen AG, Rinna says.

Key suppliers include Siemens VDO Automotive at 29% of the market, followed by Harman/Becker (25%), Robert Bosch GmbH subsidiary Blaupunkt (12%) and Magneti Marelli SpA (10%).

CSM forecasts Japan’s navigation system penetration to rise to 25% in 2011, up from 20% today. Toyota, which currently installs the devices in about 27% of the vehicles it sells in Japan, will see that figure hit 30% in 2011. Honda, currently installing navigation systems in 20% of its vehicles in Japan, also will reach 30% penetration by 2011.

Aisin AW Co. Ltd. is the market leader, with 35% of the business, including about 60% of Toyota’s volume. Denso follows at 18%, including 25% of Toyota’s share. Panasonic Corp. is ranked third with a 14% penetration.

China offers some growth potential, but the systems remain priced out of reach for many buyers, and the long development time, lack of available mapping and inability to upgrade the software may drive Chinese buyers more toward aftermarket devices in the near term, Rinna says.

Aftermarket navigation system popularity also will continue to increase in North America and Europe, CSM predicts.

dzoia@wardsauto.com