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issue: January 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Tokyo Report
New RACs Introduced for Japanese Market

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New-model room air-conditioners (RACs) for refrigeration year (RY) 2003 have been introduced for the Japanese market.

With the New Energy Saving Law (effective in RY 2004), requiring that the rate of attainment of energy-saving reference values exceed 100 percent in weighted average, it will become difficult to sell low-end models with a low COP. Japanese HVAC OEMs expect to increase the sales share of ultra energy-saving and environment-friendly models in the highest-end segment.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) continues to use the ventilating function as a basic function for improving the quality of room air, a feature the manufacturer adopted early on. Meanwhile, Toshiba Carrier has also adopted the ventilating function to improve air quality and has also incorporated negative discharge and plasma air purification features.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. has released air-purifying RACs in its new E series that feature filters that have achieved 90 percent of dust-collecting efficiency due to a newly developed ultrasonic ion air purifying system.

Sanyo Electric has developed a UV "de-germing" clean system to enhance the deodorizing performance. MHI has also improved the deodorizing performance by means of a newly developed bacteriolytic enzyme filter. Daikin has launched new models featuring aerotherapy by applying ultrasonic technology. Sharp is differentiating its new models by incorporating a "de-germing" ion technology, which was jointly developed with Kitazato Environmental Science Center.

Toshiba Carrier has developed a temperature/humidity controlling function that corresponds to biorhythms during sleep and has added it to the new plasma ion Daiseikai series. Hitachi Home & Life Solution's PAM RACs and new Kirigamine RACs from Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Melco) stress comfortable heating by using quick floor heating capacity and airflow control to prevent the user from directly facing the hot air.

Additionally, Fujitsu General will release the new series NOCRIA, which controls the ideal airflow by moving the power diffuser and big flap.

RAC Demand

Compared to RAC demand in RY 2001, which jumped up sharply, RY 2002 is estimated to account for 6.8-million units, a decrease of 12 percent from the previous year. Demand in RY 2003 is also predicted to remain level with the previous year. With the coming New Energy Saving Law, it is even more important to focus on the added value of new models with improved energy-saving performances.

A general view on the market trends prevailing in the industry was given by the president of Matsushita Electric AC Co. "Although demand in RY 2002 is likely to stand at 6.8 million units, it seems to have returned to its normal selling after the unusually favorable results in RY 2001. We expect stable RAC demand in RY 2003," he said.

RY 2003 demand predictions vary from 6.6 to 6.9 million units, depending on some differences between the makers.

The strategic point in RAC business lies in how to expand the sales share of ultra-energy-saving units in the midst of a stagnant market situation. To improve business efficiency in the first half of 2003, emphasis should be placed on expansion of pre-season or heating season sales by proposing the heating needs and intensively introducing new models into retail stores.

On average, the share of sales in the second half occupies 70 percent. OEMs regard it as an ideal balance to keep the share in the first half at 40 percent and that in the second half at 60 percent.

As for the new-model RACs for RY 2003, it will become important to stress in this economy that the heating cost (electric power charges) has become lower than kerosene thanks to the energy-saving technology.

This report is filed by Wasaku Ishida, Japanese correspondent, APPLIANCE magazine, and vice president, JARN (Japan Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News).


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