The global automotive lightweight materials market size was valued at USD 74.26 billion in 2023. It is estimated to reach USD 124.76 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period (2024–2032).
Automotive lightweight materials are predominantly used to replace cast iron and conventional steel components in electric, plug-in, and hybrid electric vehicles. They are utilized in structural elements that allow vehicles to transport advanced safety devices, integrated electronic systems, and emission control systems.
Lightweight materials for automobiles are corrosion-resistant and have a high strength-to-weight ratio. Vehicles' efficiency and electric range can also be improved by using lightweight materials for their power systems, like electric motors and batteries. The main OEMs implement materials such as polymer composites, plastics, magnesium, titanium, and steel to reduce the vehicle's overall weight.
|Market Size||USD 128.94 billion by 2031|
|Fastest Growing Market||Asia-Pacific|
|Report Coverage||Revenue Forecast, Competitive Landscape, Growth Factors, Environment & Regulatory Landscape and Trends|
The rising penetration of advanced composites in automotive applications will spur market growth over the forecast period. Growing environmental concerns and stringent regulations related to pollution control have led automotive manufacturers to enhance technologies and develop vehicles with lower emissions. In addition, the vehicle's overall weight is one of the most important aspects affecting fuel efficiency and vehicular pollution. Weight reduction drastically increases fuel efficiency and reduces vehicular pollution.
Presently, the application of advanced lightweight materials such as composites is mostly limited to high-performance vehicles owing to the high cost of the material. However, the key industry participants are employing efforts through research and development activities to formulate low-cost composite grades for volume vehicle production. These low-cost composites are expected to exhibit comparable mechanical properties to high-cost variants. This will positively influence the overall automotive lightweight materials market's growth.
Stringent emission control regulations implemented by the EPA and the European Commission are expected to drive the demand for composites in developed countries. Regulations about emission control limits have become increasingly stringent from 1990 to 2015. They are expected to further toughen up from 2016 to 2024. Countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia have implemented emission control policies aligning with Euro emission control standards.
In 2016, the Government of India announced that the country would bypass the Bharat Stage V emission standards and adopt Bharat Stage VI emission standards by 2020. In 2020, the Supreme Court issued a judgment that banned the sales and registration of vehicles following BS-IV norms in the country from April 1, 2020. This is expected to provide a huge growth opportunity to the lightweight materials market in automotive production in India.
Despite several benefits of lightweight materials, such as enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, the demand for these materials is still expected to be restrained by the high manufacturing costs. Another problem with alternative material solutions is the high amount of waste generation. At the end of life, steel can be extracted from the cars, which can be further recycled and reused to make another car or some other steel products without compromising strength. However, in the case of alternative materials, especially carbon fiber-based materials, recycled material cannot be used for making other cars due to decreased strength. They need to be treated before usage in other products, further leading to a heightening cost.
In response to the rising demand for vehicles with innovative designs and features, advanced manufacturing technologies are substituting conventional manufacturing techniques. These technologies include resin transfer molding, additive manufacturing, and microinjection molding. The primary benefit of incorporating such advanced manufacturing techniques is the ability to produce comparatively lighter and stronger materials. These advanced manufacturing technologies are intended to operate with minimal material waste. For example, additive manufacturing technology results in comparatively little material waste.
Additionally, the development of carbon fiber, which has one of the highest weight-to-strength ratios, has been substantially aided by this manufacturing technology. This technology is compatible with varying plastics, composites, and metal grades. With the 2020 Model 18 Roadster sports car, BMW (Germany) has demonstrated its additive manufacturing capabilities. These innovative processes and technologies assist the automotive industry in meeting the growing demand for lightweight materials, thereby creating opportunities for market growth.
Based on region, the global automotive lightweight materials market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Europe is the most significant global automotive lightweight materials market shareholder and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.9% during the forecast period. The automotive industry in the region is highly competitive due to the existence of numerous multinational manufacturers of passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and luxury vehicles. The European transport industry has witnessed major changes in the recent past owing to fluctuating demand from overseas markets, which has negatively affected the production quantity of the players. However, increasing investments by prominent vehicle manufacturers, considering the rising demand for e-mobility, are expected to upscale the production in the automotive industry.
In addition, Europe is the largest global producer of motor vehicles, and turnover generated by the automotive industry accounts for over 7% of the EU's GDP. Well-established manufacturing and distribution networks, technological advancement, supportive government policies, and the presence of globally renowned automobile manufacturers are major factors behind this market growth.
North America is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 5.6% over the forecast period. The demand for automotive lightweight materials in North America is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period, owing to several large automotive manufacturing companies in countries like the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. As per data published by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers in 2019, these countries were among the top 15 automotive manufacturers globally, with a total production of about 16.78 million vehicles in 2019. Several manufacturers from Europe and the Asia-Pacific have set up their plants primarily in Mexico due to the country's cheap labor costs and proximity to the U.S. market.
Additionally, the nation has free trade agreements with more than 40 nations, which reduces the cost of transporting components and supplies. Companies such as Ford, GMC, Jeep, and Lincoln are investing in expanding their production capacities. The growing adoption of electric and self-driven cars in the regions is also expected to create new growth opportunities for the market.
In Asia-Pacific, the growth of the automotive lightweight materials market is likely to be attributed to the growth in the number of automotive manufacturing facilities by companies in nations like Japan, India, China, and South Korea to increase their production capacities to cater to the ever-growing demand from the increasing population. In addition, economic expansion in developing countries like China and India is leading toward the development of the wealthy urban class, which has boosted the sales of global and innovative products in these regions. The shift toward fuel-efficient lightweight vehicles in Europe and North America has provided a lucrative opportunity for global players in the less saturated Asia-Pacific market, where reinforced composite consumption is comparatively low.
In Central and South America, the growth of the automotive lightweight materials market is predicted to be driven by growth in automotive production in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, owing to high investments by large automotive companies towards setting up production plants in these countries. The increased purchasing power of consumers in these countries is increasing the demand for passenger cars in the region. Brazil is estimated to witness the highest expansion in the region, owing to increasing emphasis on adopting electric vehicles and a continuous increase in production over the past few years.
In the Middle East and Africa, the automotive industry has experienced significant growth over the past few years, owing to high disposable income, growing population, and infrastructure development in developed GCC countries and developing countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria. In addition, the growth in car sales in GCC countries in 2019 is expected to drive the demand for lightweight automotive materials. For instance, the annual vehicle sales in 2019 increased by 28.80% compared to 2018, whereas it increased by 10.24% in Kuwait. However, the sales dropped slightly in Qatar and UAE, thus limiting the market growth. The market growth in African countries is also expected to be low, owing to instability in economic systems.
Based on product, the global automotive lightweight materials market is bifurcated into metal, composite, plastic, and elastomer.
The composite segment dominates the global market and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 5.91% over the forecast period. Thermoset polymers, thermoplastic polymers, carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRP), glass fiber-reinforced polymers (GFRP), and natural fiber-reinforced polymers (NFRP) are commonly used composite materials in the automotive industry. These are being widely used in various components of vehicles such as structural assembly, powertrain components, and interior and exterior components like bumper beam, front end module, fender, door panels, and hood to increase the durability of vehicles, ensuring long vehicle life and low maintenance cost. In addition, factors such as increasing awareness of OEMs towards stringent government regulations on emission control, lightweight property, and the high safety associated with the composites drive the market demand for these products.
Elastomers are used in both tires and non-tire applications in automobiles. Moreover, due to excellent abrasion-resistant characteristics, these are easily molded and used in radiator hoses, bumper guards, under the hood, and other applications. OEMs are developing lighter, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient vehicles, which necessitate the use of automotive elastomers, and this demand is boosting the automotive elastomers market. Interior applications such as airbags are expected to be the fastest-growing application of automotive-grade elastomers owing to sanctions imposed on vehicle manufacturers, which made airbags compulsory for all passenger cars across the globe.
Based on Components, the global automotive lightweight materials market is bifurcated into Frames, Wheels, Bumpers & Fenders, Engines & Exhausts, Transmission, Doors, Hood & Trunk Lids, Seats, Instrument Panels, Fuel Tanks.
The 'Engines & Exhausts' segment holds a prominent position in the worldwide Automotive Lightweight Materials Market. This section is about the materials used in the manufacture of engines and exhaust systems in automobiles. Automakers are constantly looking for ways to lower the weight of engine components and exhaust systems in order to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. As a result, lightweight materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber, and high-strength steel have become popular. The dominance of the 'Engines & Exhausts' category can be due to the industry's unwavering dedication to improving vehicle performance and environmental sustainability through the use of novel lightweight materials at the core of every automotive.
Based on application, the global automotive lightweight materials market is divided into the body in white, chassis and suspension, powertrain, closure, interior, and others.
The body in the white segment is the highest contributor to the market and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.01% over the forecast period. Body in White is the most important determinant of vehicle performance. It can be made using a monocoque structure and a body-on-frame structure. BIW is expected to have high tensile strength and high stiffness. It should also protect occupants from accidents and lower the vehicle's noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Factors including fuel and energy efficiency improvement of conventional and electric vehicles also necessitate using lightweight materials in BIW, as they constitute a significant share of the vehicle's curb weight. As a result, the segment accounts for high usage of materials such as steel, aluminum, magnesium, and CFRP.
The demand for automotive chassis and suspension materials is closely related to the manufacturing of new vehicles since the chassis and suspension system, one of the most crucial components of cars, connects the wheel to the vehicle frame. Factors like increasing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, stringent government regulations, and the surge in R&D expenditures for developing ultra-light chassis systems drive the demand for lightweight materials in the chassis and suspension systems. The rising demand for energy-efficient electric vehicles is anticipated to provide tremendous opportunities for market growth.