The use of eco-assist solutions to improve automotive efficiency is projected to rise in 2010 and the years to come, according to iSuppli Corp., thanks to the growing focus of governments and markets alike to curb harmful emissions and improve fuel efficiency in cars.

While the deployment of eco-assist solutions depends on factors such as the availability of navigation as well as telematics systems, the market is primed for expansion well until the close of the next decade.

For navigation systems alone, worldwide sales are forecasted to reach more than 8.5 million units in 2010 and then grow to over 22 million by 2016, iSuppli figures show. Such an outlook means that upward of 4 million navigation systems will be sold every year in new American and European cars—each theoretically capable of supporting software like eco-routing—a type of eco-assist application that calculates the most efficient roadways.

  The rise of eco-assist applications reflects the proliferating awareness of consumers for “greener” solutions, along with existing or emerging legislation around the world to protect the environment. Eco-assist will continue to gain in popularity because the potential now exists to improve vehicle performance using innovative and new technologies, iSuppli believes, and suppliers that embrace environmentally friendly solutions will have a head start in the race for consumer affection.

In practice, eco-assist relies on a network of sensors to monitor various vehicle systems. The solutions, which belong to the emerging category of vehicular and driver assistance systems, obtain the greatest effectiveness if they are embedded within the car or, in more advanced cases, assume self-regulating, autonomous control.

  Various categories exist within the overall eco-assist segment. The categories include eco-monitoring— which supplies more sophisticated analysis of vehicle resource and energy management; eco-advice—which offers recommendations to drivers on how to best realize benefits given an available set of information; and eco-powertrain — which provides autonomous control over a vehicle’s powertrain in order to optimize driving efficiency.

  The vehicle attach rate for each of these categories is forecasted to rise more slowly from 2010 to 2013, and then mostly by double-digit percentages from 2014 until the end of the forecast period in 2020. Both eco-monitoring and eco-advice will enjoy significant growth in the near term, iSuppli figures show, while eco-powertrain will experience slower deployment because of its complexity and the need for integration with other vehicle systems.

By 2020, however, eco-powertrain applications in the United States and Western Europe will approach a 35 percent attach rate—near those of eco-monitoring and eco-advice systems.

Aside from navigation systems, eco-assist technologies are expected to receive a boost from automotive telematics — the integrated system of computers and telecommunications to enhance functionality now found in cars, such as GPS navigation, hands-free telephony, and in-vehicle services and applications.

For 2010, iSuppli expects approximately 31 million embedded (built-in) and 49 million non-embedded telematics systems to be in use around the world. The figures are then forecasted to surpass 100 million and 200 million, respectively, by 2016.

In particular, as car manufacturers begin to deploy electric vehicles, telematics platforms will likely grow in availability. This is because a telematics connection will be needed to support many electric vehicle functions—a development that, in turn, will allow manufacturers to furnish or expand eco-assist features, iSuppli believes. As electric vehicles are deployed, more sensory networks and eco-assist applications will be required in order to provide consumers with the information they need to efficiently operate the cars.