The need for light-weight materials among automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and component manufacturers is accelerating the demand for automotive plastics in Europe. The use of plastics can reduce the number of parts required for a specific application, cut down on processing costs, and facilitate fuel savings between five to seven percent for every 10 percent drop in vehicle weight. In addition to environmental sustainability, plastics enable enhanced design flexibility and passenger safety features such as shock absorption in bumpers, reduced explosion risks in under-the-hood (UTH) applications and life-saving accessories such as air bags and seat belts.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), Light-weighting Role of Performance Plastics in the European Automotive Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $4.22 billion in 2013 and estimates this to reach $7.26 billion in 2019. While the recent economic slowdown has led to diminished car ownership interest in many countries, especially Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, the automotive plastics market will be sustained by the shift in focus towards more fuel-efficient, smaller, economy class vehicles. The study covers virgin compounds and polymeric blends.
"Regulations demanding the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from passenger and light commercial vehicles by 2020 are compelling automotive component manufacturers and OEMs to substitute metal parts," said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials & Food Research Analyst Soundarya Shankar. "The improved heat, chemical and impact resistance, enhanced aesthetics, optimum price-performance index in high performance polymers such as polypropylene (PP), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonates and polyurethanes (PU) coupled with new compounding techniques have made plastics the most preferred material in automotive applications."
Plastics also offer significant cost advantages over metals. While metals are cheaper than plastic materials on a cost-per-unit basis, the latter remain a more feasible alternative due to lower processing, assembling and finishing costs. The cost of plastics will fall further when standardisation and mass production commence.
The rising use of reinforced and composite material in automotive applications, however, poses a threat to virgin plastic compounds. The maturity of certain polymers for specific applications such as the use of PU polymers for seating applications and PP polymers for interior applications further limits growth potential.
"Market participants should focus on the exterior and UTH application segments rather than the interior application segment, where opportunities are relatively saturated," advised Shankar. "They must also forge close relationships with customers and gain sound technical expertise and backward-integrated resin manufacturing capability to stand out in the European automotive market."
If you are interested in more information on this research, please send an email to Julia Nikishkina, Corporate Communications, at julia.nikishkina[.]frost.com, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country.
Light-weighting Role of Performance Plastics in the European Automotive Market is part of the Chemicals & Materials Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan’s related research services include: Hot Melt Adhesives Market, Automotive Refinish Coatings Market, and Protective and Marine Coatings Market and the Resins Markets. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Light-weighting Role of Performance Plastics in the European Automotive Market / M9B2-39